Literary Mama writing about the many faces of motherhood


We find you curled on the couch like the embryo that squirmed inside me, immersed in the substance you’ve come to rely on like the amniotic fluid where you once floated complacently, now red dots down both your arms like mosquito bites and yet, with dignity, you ask, “Please may I put on my pants,” as you rise from the sofa like a resurrection in the dark predawn morning with the sheet across your body, shoulders still strong despite the dissipation in your concave cheeks and thin thighs. The women turn away from your nakedness, including me, even though I cupped your little naked buttocks in my hand for a photo soon after you were born, your tiny chest smooth in the subtle winter light. You pull on a T-shirt, push aside the rumpled bedclothes and sit down as we begin to read our letters just like on T.V., the testimonials to the person you have been then what you have become that has hurt us, and each of us, finally, pleads with you to go to rehab, as we have been instructed to by John, the interventionist; first your sister tearfully addresses “her big brother”; your friends attest to your accomplishments, then Daddy sobs more than we have ever seen him cry. Dawn trickles through the windows like the Mexican Black Tar you have been injecting into your veins, posters of skulls, revolvers and knives not quite obliterating the Austin light. We bundle you into the waiting car where you hunch over and sleep, nodding like an old man all the way to rehab in the San Antonio hills.

Jan Ball’s poetry has appeared in many journals, such as Atlanta Review, Connecticut Review and Nimrod. Her first chapbook, Accompanying Spouse, was published in 2011 by Finishing Line Press and is available on Amazon. Her second chapbook, Chapter of Faults, was published in January 2014. Jan teaches ESL at DePaul University in Chicago where she lives with her Australian husband, Ray.

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This is a gorgeous heartbreaking piece. A shout out to you, whom I do not know, support and prayers from another Austin-mama.
Powerful poem with strong images. It was brilliant of the poet to use similes that compared the addict son to an embryo, a newborn and an old man, alcohol to amniotic fluid, needle marks to mosquito bites and dawn to the Mexican black tar he pumps in his veins.
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