I'm Not The Person I Am

I’m Not The Person I Am.

I was born to a woman.
Laboring at six in the morning
(Such an ungodly hour)
She never touched me.

My mother was of Maltese blood,
a large family of twelve siblings.
She sobbed at the glass
But was told “not to worry, forget about it”.
Catholic nuns said that.

I stayed in the hospital long after my mother had left.
Apparently I wouldn’t feed.
I was premature, very small, they wondered if I would live.
I had to though, because this is not the end of the story.

My father was a French National.
He knows about me, perhaps he even wonders.
That is if he’s alive.

My mother says she was a victim of rape.
Except at two o’clock in the morning
She rings me crying, drunk, evasive.
On such occasions she says, “He must be dead!
If he were alive he would be with me now!”

John, that is. That was his name.
He used to caress her in his heavy French accent,
“Antoinette, Antoinette…
but she preferred the Broadmeadows Home
for Unmarried Mothers.

I have dark brown hair.
And blue eyes like everyone in mother’s family.
My skin is very particular to a region of Alsace-Lorraine.
Doctors call it (and it’s very technical),
café au lait, (coffee and milk).

My paternal grandfather was an Austrian Jew.
I didn’t grow up in a Mediterranean family.
I’m not Jewish.
I don’t speak Maltese.
I’m trying to learn French.
I’m not the person I am.

I'm Not The Person I Am

Joanna Beilby

East Bentleigh, Australia

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Poetry

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  • Joanna Beilby
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