On My Mother Being a Grandmother


My mother danced

slowly —— softly

only when she thought

she was alone.

She sang.

I listened but I did not understand.


As a child then a man—


far from one another—

I saw things

only in relationship

to my needs

she was not meeting.


When she showed little

interest in her

two grandchildren

I took offense. I mean,

these are your son’s children!

Pay attention!

Put away that book!

Adore them!

Give your time

your thoughts

to them alone!

Sing to them!

How rude to do otherwise!

What life have you

that supersedes this obligation?

Defer to me, your son,

by making them

the center

of this ending to your life!


I am sorry I ever had those thoughts

but glad I never spoke of them to her.


Like other male toxins

exiting my body

until I die

these oppressions made me sick inside

but at the time the infection was still


the symptoms

swollen hubris

bloated pride

I celebrated in male rituals

of casual violence

weaponized humor.


I feel now the symptoms

of shame

like a yellowing bruise

a low-grade fever

that rise when memories strike

of being part of this disease

and take the purgatives

of listening

and quiet reassessment of the heart.