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Iron Mother
by Megan Merchant

"Do not overindulge them. Do not kiss them goodnight. Rather, give a brief bow and shake their hand before turning off the light."- John B Watson

This year’s Mother’s Day sun melts the late layers of frost on the pines
and it looks like slips of rain thinning down needle-tips under an umbrella of trees. 

It’s proven, love clefts down to science, that the best way to understand
the heart is to break it, that nurturing can be replaced with a soft cloth and a wire mother that milks in a cage.  That monkeys shiver when you take those things away. 

My own iron mother pinched her praise and yielded any physical attention with a spatula.  She microwaved dinners and scolded my fat face for needing to eat every night.  I learned to follow the map of her rigid lines but also how 

to hush her lullaby from looping in my head that scolded I was fractured, too difficult, 
her ticket into heaven. The stones in her pockets during a flood.  She called anyone who could love me—a saint. 

I write this to snip the wire from the cage, to loom a cloth soft enough to wrap
storms with my own hands. To stop the shivering and learn into forgiveness, 
let her voice climb back inside for a visit, welcome her anger as a form of loss; 
hers, mine. 

I offer her a gift of snipped wildflowers from our land, frozen in glue.  
If she holds it up to the light, she can see I picked them right before
they had a chance to bloom. 

Megan Merchant is the author of two chapbooks : Translucent, Sealed, (Dancing Girl Press, 2015) and In the Rooms of a Tiny House ( ELJ Publications, October 2016). Her first full-length collection, Gravel Ghosts (Glass Lyre Press) will be making its way into the world summer of 2016. Her first children’s book, These Words I’ve Shaped For You, will be also appearing in 2016 through Philomel Books. Her future is bright. She wears shades.