For Mom

At nine I watched my mother,
small, frail, diminished further by my father,
and the one before him.
She was a stranger to me then,
alien. Weak, complicit,
she was of another time.
Even then, I wondered
why she stayed, why she didn’t get out,
and later, when she did leave,
why she left me behind.

At nineteen I fell in love.
I found my soul mate, believed
that love strengthened me.
I was independent, a woman,
special, empowered, loved.
I was far from home,
far from my mother.
I left her behind.

At twenty-nine I was still so young,
married, ready to have a child,
optimistic that the future was bright,
full of possibilities.
In love, I felt supported,
we were in sync, I had grown
into a woman, a wife, a part
of someone else. I didn’t know
I had left myself behind.

At thirty-nine I left him.
I had lost myself, become weak
from compromising myself.
The woman I had been
was a stranger to me now.
I wondered
why I had stayed, why I didn’t leave
for so long.
Now I understood
the fear, the pain, the frailty
of the future alone.
I went back
to the woman I had been,
and to my mother,
who I had become.
All those years I had lost,
I left them behind.

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