When I traverse through old memories, I hear my mother’s voice everywhere: talking about the collapse of our relationship. Sticky with regret and bitterness. I confront her every day, especially recently, since she’s always on my ass about taking Lexapro. I hear my mother’s voice everywhere: when I sleep, in every boy I’ve slept with. Some stain right there in my face. I can’t see past the day she told me that she didn’t want to have me, but my grandmother persuaded her. Or the time she told me God would forgive me for being queer, I like the scar it left on my ribs. Some foolish smoke in the air. Some home I grew up in. She would hate me talking about this. It’s a bird perched up high, staring down, luring eyes, gazing, judging—like her.
“You’re the boy blue, the one I would do anything for,” I hear her singing to me through the phone. I’m sedated and unimpressed, but I chuckle and pretend it means something. I can’t tie the cut thread between us. I can’t spool it back together. How unwoven we have become, like that slippery slope theory I’ve heard so much about, the avalanche kept coming.
The boy loves his mother. The boy wants to love his mother. The boy doesn’t know how to love his mother, but he tries. The boy stays up at night figuring out why mom kept taking those men’s side over his. The boy knows he hates men because of her. He likes men because of her. He hates himself because of her.
His mother has perfect teeth, and the boy needs surgery to fix his.
The boy wants to be loved, and his mom cannot get over his last ex, says he was the perfect one, and each boy after that cannot measure up to him. And him. And him.
His mother is beautiful, and she runs the room. His mom doesn’t like any of his new friends because he constantly goes through different ones, so much so that she can never care enough to remember their names.
It’s the boy’s fault. He has a mean-steak, cannot live properly. He tries to pray, but God hasn’t loved him since who knows when.
We stare at the walls. We know the mother tries her best, but she’s broken too.
There are stories left out there to dry up in the California sun, and the wind will pick them up. dust in the hands go away—just go away—as in memories swept out of the mind, forgetting seems the best option when you want to move forward. The sun dries up mother’s tears for never being there. The boy holds hands out with dust, waits for the wind to take all the bad memory away. How do stories find themselves back—dust always collects again.
The mother tells him to stop lying to his doctors, to tell the truth about his fucked-up mind. What do we do with darkness? I can’t turn on the lights. The nightmares stay.
Emotional support—verb—wish it were a noun, deeply embedded in the flesh. The mother couldn’t teach the boy Spanish because she was afraid of what the white people would think.
They called the boy hyper when he was younger, said he needed some therapy to cure his ailments. With an open wound, he grew up with an open mouth, wishing things would be different. When the boy traverses through old memories, they are stained with his mother’s voice, and he cannot tell anymore whose mouth opens to hell: hers or his.
Mateo Lara is from Bakersfield, California. He received his B.A. in English at CSU Bakersfield. He is currently working on his M.F.A. in Poetry at Randolph College in Lynchburg, VA. His poems have been featured in Orpheus, EOAGH, Empty Mirror, and The New Engagement. He is an editor for RabidOak online literary journal.