An arts magazine at the University of Pennsylvania
Asphyxiating | Mother Dearest
Neither of us can remember it precisely.
“Without recounting details,” I ask you, “what happened?”
“She came home.
Took off her coat.
She nodded, she frowned.
‘You are my child, and I am yours, and we love each other terribly.’”
You distinctly remember the sensation of drowning.
You say that velvet ropes wrapped themselves affectionately around your
“Man must suffer in order to be reformed,“ you say. “He must be dismantled
entirely and remade in the shape of his creator.“
You describe walking across miles of hot coals.
You tell me there was tar dripping from each fingernail, each eyelash.
“She had a dozen arms,“ you say, “each brandishing a shard of glass.“
You remember one of her eyes distinctly. The clutter of the room. The growl
of her voice.
“She had broken in,” you say. “Ravaged the place. It is now entirely unrecognizable.”
You think she still waits for you. She stands at the landing at the top of the
stairs and looks down. She wonders why you took so long.
You ask me the same question: “Without recounting details, what
“A bottle broke,” I say. “Nothing more.”
“How did it break?“
“Why did it shatter?”
“They tend to do that when thrown.“
Neither of us can remember it precisely. I tend to think of things as rather
She came home.
Took off her coat.
She nodded, she smiled.
“You are my child, and I am your mother, and we love each other
It was always so different between you and I. I say affectionately that you
knew the worst of it, but when I try to remember things precisely, I can’t.
When I try to remember imprecisely, I forget my reason for recalling them at
We attempt to reconcile our accounts.
No, to the tar. Yes, to the glass. No, to the dozen arms.
You insist there were more than the usual two, and we agree on six instead.
You thank me for listening, and I thank you for the same.
I say, “You are my family, and I am yours, and we love each other honestly.“
“You are my family, and I am yours, and we love each other so.”