Meditation on Motherhood


by Naomi Ling


—“I am writing to you from inside a body that used to be yours. Which is to say, I am writing as a son.” On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous, Ocean Vuong

after my mother, 卓君

 

Take your crooked palms and place

them on mine; mother, tell me where

this hollow mouth of democracy abandoned you.

If it was the flightless predator, or the

prejudiced Kroger customers, or your

pastor’s lips as he kneeled. To give yourself to

the delicate splendor of your motherland

or to the crashing neon teeth of Times Square.

Practice meditation. Hold your thumbs

a breadth-width apart, child’s pose. Breathe.

I was not born between forgiving thighs;

rather, the dirty silt of the Yellow River as it

washed over your carcass. Leave it all

here with me. Mother, this foreign soil

will upturn your roots and make a

treehouse out of your limbs. Poplar,

spruce, or willow—it does not matter.

America picks and chooses its fights.

Leave your bleeding veins here; pluck

them for me to admire. You must bleed

before you can breathe. At least, that’s

what your mother murmured to you—

twenty wartimes ago, carrying your body with

waterlogged feet to a safer pair of arms.

You were not born facing the throat

of a gun—but show me now a softened

bullet, lodged in your gums for keepsakes.


Naomi Ling is a student writer on the East Coast, USA.