Out of a Moment

I watch my mother working industrially and entirely ineffectively at a jigsaw in silent desperation. She puts a piece in and then sees an invisible break in a line or a misplaced branch on a tree and she removes it. Of course there is nothing wrong with the piece’s original home, and it is eventually replaced.
My mother breaks away from her unintentional game and offers me a biscuit. I don’t want one. No. Thank you. But of course I do. Of course I’ll sneak to the tin and I’ll gorge myself on my spite as soon as I find the chance. More importantly, she looks at my lying face and we both know that this is true. I want to shout, I want to her to force feed me the bloody biscuit and scream her frustration in my face. But I do not say this and neither does she. Instead I rise and, smiling, suggest we have some lunch.

She eats her soup in a heavy breathing, spilling, noisy way and I am furious. In a silent stand against her, I eat the soup in stony silence, silently cupping the soup into the spoon and opening wide to avoid the slurping, licking sound. The soup is hot. It is burning and it burns my mouth and my behaviour sizzles all too clearly on my tongue. My plain stubbornness makes me angrier. And my mouth hurts.

Later we are cooking and I feel like the vegetables she has prepared, lying in wait on the chopping board in her clean, clean kitchen. Disseminated, awaiting a restructuring of my maths before I become something different entirely. Different and not new, as what I will become is of course a reassembled collection of her genetics – slowly and lovingly put together by her and my father; their jigsaw of intentions. And in this moment I know why it is that I feel so acutely the disappointment that her soup eating exposes her as flawed, real – human. Maybe if she could have resisted becoming as real as everyone else I might have had at least a little hope of breaking away from this incomprehensible wheel of a burden of love.

I suddenly see that I have been endlessly trying to put myself together, but instead of using the pieces of our jigsaw, the one you and my father have made for me, I have been trying to fit together chess pieces. I have been looking past the pieces that have been there all along, the ones that you have been trying all this time to show me. The ones you don’t understand yourself, and had never felt such a cloying need to examine until you had me to guide through. I now know how you see me past my flaws, the collection of human imperfections that you have silently woven together inside your body. It is your parts that you see – reflected back from you, making me.

Out of a Moment


Joined January 2008

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