My Mother’s Daughter

ပုလဲ Pearl Fedele, 15 February 2023

I’m a bad kid, they told me so.
I don’t know if I was bad before or after I was four
When the teacher said I was such a chore,
An enigma that she just couldn’t stand
Like a bad itch under your skin you can’t get.

I think I’m made of saw dust and tar.
Sticky and stubborn
Clinging between your fingers and under your nails
Winding you up till you feel sick.
I don’t know how I became like this.
Some say you should retrace your steps to see who you’ve become
So I turn back.
But I don’t know where to start, there’s too many tracks.

I’m a bad kid, I used to lie.
I told kids at school I was a princess or a spy.
And when they didn’t believe me I banished them.
How dare they not live within the boundaries of my realm.

But deep down I knew I was neither a princess nor a spy,
I am a mix of real and imaginary things
That still follow me at twenty-five.
I was always everything I didn’t want to be
Face, hair, accent, address
All pit against me to remind me I’m a guest.
Always an imitation at best.

I’m a bad kid, my aunt once said.
My grandfather can’t stand me and that’s just my effect.
I was only six but it tore me apart,
People were starting to point out my wretched heart.

I’d like to open myself up and study the strands of rot
Connect them on the wall like a lousy crime board.
I’m buzzing with particles that make up my skin
They gossip about me when I’m not looking and say:
That’s the bad kid who should be kept at bay,
An eternal guest who can’t quite stay.

Sometimes I’m angry and I’m mean
Sometimes I want to go home but I don’t know what that means
Sometimes I scramble to find home in everyone and it scares me
Sometimes at night I want to scream
The quiet reminds me of all my lonely.
I know of myself only what they tell me.

My mother crafted a world for her and I.
They call me a bad kid, but I think they’re wrong.
She said she believes me because she’s my mom.
Nobody knew about this world or the crossed wires within its walls.
Whispers and eye rolls, side eyes and secrets.
Did she know she was building an invisible fence to keep us?
What now when only one of us is left to keep up?

I worry sometimes that my good do not outweigh my bad
What a waste of life on someone who’s always so sad.
A guest in my home and a guest in my body.
I am the flashbacks of defeated car rides home at night
And when I start to cry, I cry day and night.

They say I’m a bad kid and it’s true.
I come from my mother’s good days and bad days
And she comes from her mother’s bad days and even worse days.
So what if we’re bad sometimes?
It’s not like this heritage is a crime.
And at my worst I wish I could see myself through my mother’s eyes
Surely something she made couldn’t be that compromised.

On good days and not so good days
I’ll try to remember
Sawdust and tar
Heavy and sour
When I’m everything all at once and
When I’m nothing at all,
At least I know one thing for sure,
I am always my mother’s daughter.