by Elizabeth Kirschner
I waltz over to the black upright piano, the one I played while singing to my mother so she could nap. She never thanked me, but that I could deliver her onto the peace of sleep was the gift God gave me to give to her.
I touch the keys, start to sing, “Silent Night” like an unrequited lover. I play it slow, almost bluesy to my boozy mother. I hear her sigh and the big heart in the fire of creation begins to breaks. She needs the simple sympathy my simple music brings her and I can’t help but think that my mother, even though she has been a cruel tutor, deserves it. Perhaps I am playing for the child she once was, the one I so lovingly looked at in the photograph album her mother made for her, a woman whose only belief was that we all are the victims of victims.
In those pages, my mother is dressed in ribbons and bows and her dark, curly hair is in luxurious abundance, curls that I want to bunch in my hands. Even now, I want to hold that child in my arms like a living dolly and kiss her into bliss. How and when did this girl vanish into the hag mother now before me, hacking on her cigarette? Can I rescue this hag mother, let daughter-love redeem her? Surely the god of her understanding has abandoned her, but I cannot, will not, not even decades later when she dies her hag death. Loving her may be an anguish, but it’s the catastrophic miracle that makes me who I am.