• Lucia Joyce

Becoming My Mother

My father's likeness is definitely in there somewhere...

I suspect he's the reason I need to sing at the top of my lungs

And incessantly charm strangers.

We're both performers,


Restless spirits.

We both have round noses,

Flat feet.

We wear mostly the clothes we've been given:

Hand-me-downs and gig-swag.

He had a pair of magenta Converse.

Mine, streaked with rainbow lasers.

I used to try his on my kid feet when I found them on the front porch.

They were the floppiest, most ridiculous things I'd ever seen.

But when he wore them,

And left for 'work',

Guitar case in hand,

He looked like a rock star.

We both tend to avoid 'regular' jobs,

Both dropped out of college,

Both prefer a hot day at the beach to...anything.

My father gave me a copper glow,

Eyelashes I have to curl myself,

And black-coffee hair that's hard to brush.

But it's my mother

Who greets me in the mirror.

Lips, freckles, cheekbones,

We speak each other's words,

Walk each other's gait.

I have my mother's wrists and fingers,

I use her overlong arms

And kickass legs

To win hearts,

And even paychecks.

We are shaped the same

From ankle to elbow.

Sometimes I wake up

In the middle of the night, in Los Angeles,

Kick off my socks, curl into my flat pillow,

And wonder if we were perfectly synchronized

That very moment, 1600 miles apart.

Where my father withdrew,

My mother leaned in.

From her I inherit depths of patience

Dutiful listening, self sufficiency.

She is not a performer like Dad and I,

But she created gift after gift

For her children.

Patterned jumpers & Halloween garb that lasted,

Fresh almond milk before it was ever boxed and branded,

Endless props and repurposed playthings,

Homemade egg rolls & pizza pops

Backed up in the freezer for months.

Cookies and ice cream pie.

Jars and jars of salsa

From boxes and boxes of season-ripe tomatoes.

Thousands of kind, conversational hours

In the dependable minivan to dance class.

Jazz solo playlists for days,

Costume concepts we would remember forever.

She made everything.

Not to woo an audience,

Not for likes and follows,

Certainly not for pay.

I have my mother's resilience,

Disciplined cleaning habits,

Lips, freckles, cheekbones,

And--I hope--her ease of care.

I'm caring for more people and things

A little at a time.

I'm embracing the heart she gave me,

Becoming who I'm meant to be.

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