A Mother's Work

by Jessica Hite

It’s been almost three trash collections with my mother gone. She left to do a mother’s work. The kind of work that you can never say thank you for enough. The kind of work that you can’t understand until you’re old enough and the world has hollowed you some. She’s left to do the work that scars her; that keeps her up at night wondering if all this was hiding in her womb those nine months--the kind that will always make her wonder why we never see this stuff before it happens. She’s gone off to do the work only a mother can do because only a mother can be pressed so thin against the earth, bones cracking and shattering; yet still holding because mothers are steel and iron. But mothers are soft, and they bruise from it all--years of mothering ground into cloudy eyes, down turned lips, and weary sighs. Mothers are eternal because when the work is finished (it’s never really finished) her scent and bones still remain. We carry our mother’s work with us. We cry because we hate to see her worked to the bone. We cry because God, what can we do to lighten the load? But sometimes we don’t cry until it’s too late, and then her spine is bent from all those long days. we don’t see our mother mothering until our cries are in the air. We don’t see our mother mothering when it’s calm, and her skin smells of laundry and dinner. In the quiet moments you don’t realize all the softness that she’s had to tuck away so she can do a mother’s work. you don’t see the weeping thing she was when she pushed you out, when she cracked and opened for you. It’s been almost three trash collections and I feel my mother’s work sitting in my chest and I feel the water coming and I wonder if i’ll cry enough tears. I wonder if I can strand us somewhere where the world cannot touch us because all this mothering--all this working--is getting to be too much. It’s been almost three trash collections and I almost want her to give up.

"I began writing poetry as a teenager to express myself and relieve some of the emotional stress I was experiencing from growing up and into myself. My poetry has helped me understand myself and my relation to the world as a black woman. It reminds me that I am never done growing or healing, and that I must always be gentle with myself as I continue to bloom and find my voice." - Jessica Hite


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