My mother

I see that you are gravely ill. I smell your fear. You are emotionally labile, so I accept your tearful embrace. And I say nothing & I go. You request a book-list from me. When I return & you are improved, I give you my precious books, & the list you don’t even glance at. But you are greedy, as always. You want more. You want to pretend that I can be different; that the past doesn’t matter; that trauma was imaginary. You trespass on my relationships, that you see in a fuzz of golden clouds my weather has long since burned away. Australia is harsh, but its penetrating light & unfathomable skies reveal what can be seen, & I am just like this. You ask me to be gentle, & I want to say, I was, once. When will you stop trying to change me? Do you believe that the countless nights that death stalked us have vanished from my memory, without leaving their trace? Do you think that the trust you destroyed didn’t change me fundamentally? Did you think that my sacrifice of my own safety for yours left no scar? Do you believe that betrayal, abandonment, indifference, is love? How can you ask for one more thing? But you do. Now you want my writing, & I say no. It is not for you. You misunderstand & complain that I think you are not intelligent enough to read my work. I never implied any such thing, but I know you. This is how you manipulate, to force intimacy. I am immune. None of your tricks reach me now. I no longer ache to be understood. I no longer need to show myself to you & be seen for what I am. I no longer need to speak truth to your absurd generalisations, confabulations & inventions – well, ok – lies. They are all so self-serving mother. I cannot send you to the grave with the sliver of my soul you desire. It is too late for understanding. You have had 80 years in which to invite redemption. I have forgiven you, not for you, but for me. I am free.

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