silas denver melvin

the guessing game: a mothers love

i’m constantly guessing at how much my mother loves me.
how she endures my gender,
my pitiful interest in true crime & reptiles.
tolerates me & my terrible haircuts.
i’m the son she didn’t ask for,
but like the runt kitten in a wet cardboard box,
she received me:
all my rebellion & tired politics,
the mouth she couldn’t pin shut.
when she drives me to the store, we can feign normalcy.
the sun slicing through the windshield
& turning the scene to nectar.
i sound so farmboy & sweet when im in the doorway crying, “but ma…!”
like there haven’t been a million times before
where we wanted the other dead:
the loud clang her hands made
around my throat,
the crack of my skull colliding with truth.
i think there isn’t any way to deny it:
the conditional love.
the way she says she’s proud of me,
but never mentions me by name,
can’t call me her blood to a crowd.
yes, it boils down to nothing more than this:
my mother endures me.
my mother has no other choice than to endure me.
labor of love, the restraint it takes
not to ax down the sapling that bears bitter fruit.
her in the kitchen, my dad there, too,
saying, “the night you were born, kid, that night
was a strawberry moon & my room in the hospital,
the window framed it like we were meant to be watching that
instead of watching
elbow your way into the world.”

silas denver melvin (he/him) is a trans masc poet from Southern NH. His debut collection of poetry, Grit, was released in 2020. His work has also been featured in WACK, SCAB, Toyon Lit, Spectre, and Doghouse Press, among others. He is on Instagram @sweatermuppetv3 & Tumblr + Twitter @sweatermuppet.

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