Michelle Lin, Portrait of my Mother as Mystique from X-Men

The child first believes the body drawn blue

can tide skies beyond panes, can sift
‎ㅤㅤ‎ㅤㅤinto the moon and back. Change is feasible,

is furious, is the many filaments of a self

‎ㅤㅤ‎ㅤㅤsurfacing at a magnetic doodle board
bending to a hopeful pen. The shape

of a mother is anything before the child

learns the tone of flesh, before the pen
‎ㅤㅤ‎ㅤㅤbecomes roped-in anchor, learns to stamp

down stars, has the body blue broken

‎ㅤㅤ‎ㅤㅤinto house, named from any moon
to monster, first by some God in a helmet,

then by the body, herself.

How quickly a baring of breasts
‎ㅤㅤ‎ㅤㅤdrawn by the two of my child-hands

is swept from the slate. How naked

‎ㅤㅤ‎ㅤㅤmy mother’s apology as I, emptied
toy in hand, am rushed from the door.

How sudden is the knowing

of shame, of learning this first part
‎ㅤㅤ‎ㅤㅤof us to cover when uncovered?

What’s kept closed behind doors?

What humiliation! It could burn
the whole house down.

Never mind she was first given to me

bare. Never mind I did not turn
‎ㅤㅤ‎ㅤㅤthen from her bruised body, even if drawn

in tears. No—how right is my making of blame,

‎ㅤㅤ‎ㅤㅤthe hurt of each poem, hard metal core
of my pen molded by men. How marked

is emancipation—with a mother beaten

into any woman’s body, imagine
‎ㅤㅤ‎ㅤㅤwho her child could be. Each time I look

she could change.