Mama I Am Sorry

Mama I Am Sorry


For the stillbirth and the live ones. For
my books, degrees, and all the other

ways I have betrayed you. For unlinking
our arms a dozen times the year before

your surgery, unconvinced you needed
that relief until the afternoon I walked

up from the subway station and that
before you saw me, I then watched you

on the street, alone without even a rail,
lurching and winding. The calls, of

course, that I did not return, the care I
would not acknowledge out of cowardice

and a hope to never need you or to need
anyone. For every question I refused

to answer, or did not answer generously.
For remembering the orange juice you

put in the guacamole and the sprouts
washed in hot water. That this list, like

your prescription deliveries and the group
chats, will end before either of us is ready.

About the rug you saved for, and the man
who pretended not to speak the street

language, your holding up the cash as you
pointed to what you wanted. I’m sorry,

he said, I can’t understand you. You know,
mama, that I am sorry differently; I promise

you I will not say it to be cruel or polite:
that never will I be so banal, so American.

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