Matrilineal Inheritance Equation in Three Parts

by Rebecca Martin


Mothering = talking around things. A story gets repeated and repeated—my aunt with her small hand seared on the hot lines of an outdoor grill—until it doesn’t mean anything, until it takes the place of what still needs saying. My mother remembers times when her mother couldn’t get out of bed. What is better—the silence or the admitting? Does it need to be a confession or a sealed tomb? Little rose tin I stole from my mother sits on the shelf in my apartment now. Every morning I shake it to hear nothing rattle inside. What is better—what I am building, or what I am not?


My great-grandmother’s china = buried ten years in the Rochester basement, spiderwebbing across concrete like a covering of fog. Without flourish my sister and I stand in the sea of boxes holding my grandmother’s past and all we talk about is how to safely hand them to one another, how to extract them without a huge collapse. I want to say less and less for the wrong reasons. To build an anti- mother who fits in sustainable packaging. To get out of bed every morning.


Decreased serotonin production = talking around what’s buried. A story gets packed down until it smooths over like the edges of a quilt. When my great-grandmother learned her oldest daughter was expanding, month-heavy with daughtering, she set her mouth in a thin line. My mother was the oldest daughter until she wasn’t. Specter-self years older wandering her hometown. In journal entries my mother wrote mostly about boys she liked until she found God. Now my sister and I build up all she claims not to remember into a memorial. Mourn like time-travelers for ourselves until we’re tired of talking about it. When my grandmother writes to me, she asks about the weather and what movies I’ve seen lately.

Rebecca Martin (she/they) is the author of High-Tech Invasions of the Flesh (Bottle Cap Press). Her work centers embodied queer femme experience, in conversation with and troubled by the parameters of history, archive, and myth. Their work can also be found in Hayden’s Ferry Review, Defunkt Magazine, Crab Creek Review, Cotton Xenomorph, Peach Mag, Muzzle Magazine, and others, and received an Honorable Mention in the 2022 Gulf Coast Poetry Prize. They are a graduate of Oregon State University’s MFA program, where they were awarded the Graduate Creative Writing Award in Poetry and served as poetry editor for literary magazine 45th Parallel and department steward for their graduate employee union. She currently lives in Pittsburgh.

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