LabyrinthShe who bore me, supported my slack newborn neck
in her palm while she bathed me in a small basin,
warm water tested on her wrist
She who smoothed the auburn down of my brow, laundered
cotton diapers and stacked them four feet high
so she’d have enough
She who led me up and down stairs, whose hand meant home.
Who tickled freckles at bedtime as I sank,
sighing, into pillows.
She who ran cold vinegar baths for my sunburned skin.
Who covered me up in the sun, but shunned the darkness
I was in, in the garage
where her husband hussied me. Her voice made books
breathe while I held my tongue – Don’t tell –
secret burning still,
long after her escape from him, leaving me as well.
Abandonment, it sounds so harsh, then and now,
well, doesn’t it?
I still can’t find her in the labyrinth of denial, and I envy
those who seem to live as though their mother never
existed, living or dead.
Copyright © 2016 Carla Drysdale
Carla Drysdale's first full-length collection of poems, Little Venus, was published in 2009 by Tightrope Books in Toronto. Her first chapbook of poems, Inheritance, came out with Finishing Line Press in 2016. Her poems have appeared in numerous publications, including Public Pool, Paris Press, PRISM International, The Same, LIT, the Literary Review of Canada, Canadian Literature, The Fiddlehead, Global City Review, Literary Mama and in the anthology, Entering the Real World: VCCA Poets on Mt. San Angelo. In May, 2014 she was awarded PRISM's annual Earle Birney poetry prize for her poem, "Inheritance." Born in London, Ontario, she lives with her husband and two sons in Ornex, France. Find more of her work at www.carladrysdale.com.