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Mama Bear

My mother worries.

She can’t help but want to pull us back into the nest.

But we aren’t baby birds.

We are shape shifters

born to navigate this

kind of obscurity.

First specs, nocturnal and dependent.

More someone else than ourselves

Two someone else’s.

But we expand, as we are meant to.

Drawn into the blaze.

Disoriented, completely other.

And we change 1,000 times.

Limbs stretch, voices emerge.

Motion – a double edge sword.

When we are small and soft you can hold vigil by our bedsides counting our breaths.

But our legs get stronger and we start to run.

We get hurt, learn faster, get up and do it differently.

(Or we do it the same, and hurt and hurt and hurt).

Can a mother be an atheist?

I don’t know.

They are praying all of the time.

Aren’t you praying all of the time?

Screaming, or whispering, or holding your breath?

Constant. Like the heart beating in your chest.

Willing the universe to keep those babies in the light.

Those peculiar, exhausting, exquisite works of art.

And time speeds up and they take new shapes.

Again and again.

Faster and faster.

Running up ahead, just out of sight.

Stay in the light you call after them...

Be safe. But also be brave.

Stand up.

Stand up.

Pay attention.

Fight back.

Ask questions, burn brighter.

This is how we build our temples.

Adding and removing layers.

Shedding our skin, discarding what does not fit.

Chipping away towards the truth.

Thousands of shapes.

We are infinite.


And continue to choose.

© Elizabeth McLaughlin


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