My mother has become a black cloud, collecting in her room.
I shut her door when I read.
When I play music.
When I'm on the phone.
When she talks too much.
When I'm changing.
I shut her door without knowing why sometimes.
Since I moved in with my father, I've made it a habit to forget where I came from.
Who I came from.
Since I moved out on my own, I've taken up forgetting what I look like.
Who I look like.
Since my mother's news, and her surgery three months overdue, I try to remember everything.
How many steps lead up to her apartment.
The average number of gummis that come in the fruit snacks.
How low I can twist the light's dial before I see my demons peeking from corners.
The difference between choking on blood in your sleep and it's-only-a-loud-snore.
When my mom's work alarm will blast on different weekdays so I can migrate from the couch to her bed.
When she limps out of the front door, I'm curled in the crease where her frame has sagged on the mattress, and I can fit my face where the place for her neck has dipped.
I wonder if she's cried here without my knowing.
I check the material for wet spots: yellow-vanilla.
I press my ear on the bed to listen for a recent history of sadness.
I fall asleep imagining a conversation with my mom, and her mom, who I never met.
My mother says, "Mom, this is my son."
My grandmother looks at me and says, "He is beautiful."
I say, "Grandma, this is my mother, your daughter."
And I look at her and say, "She is beautiful."
And these women smile.
So hard their faces fold into the wings of an Acrea Moth,
kicking up gusts with infinite laughter.