My mother, God love her, continues to call me a harlot.
I realize that she is ill, and this really breaks my heart. I try to seem disaffected, but it hurts me to hear this whether or not she means it. That woman sounds like her, looks like her, but what she says really stings all too deeply.
But her face has become so leathery-looking for all those bleaching creams. I would prefer that she could better accept her coloring.. I always have. Guess that we humans are never satisfied.
Please forgive me for what I am about to say, but I know one reason that she wanted my father to be the father of her child. Growing up in the 1930s in Valhermossa Springs (a corruption of “Beautiful Valley” I’ve thought, ever since I could speak Spanish, but there are many ways to says “self-denigration” and she had plenty of that); plenty of ways to belittle herself in Alabama.
She was born before people learned to be “black and proud” She was so ashamed of her coloring, the darkest complexioned girl in a family of 12 children, 6 males, 6 females, and the girls all born before most of the boys, and my mother was the darkest girl, always called, the little Black One.
All that Nadinola that she continues to slather on her face, neck, fingers. She looks striped, covered in whooshes and semicircles, the movements of her hands as she tries desperately to paint herself yellow, whiter and whiter,
Available at Walmart and other fine retail stores.
She was little, (5 feet tall, 4’8″ tall right now) and now even darker as the bleaching creams are darkening her skin instead lightening it. Among other things –for I know little to nothing of their love life, but I also know that my father was considered a catch, his hair and his skin tone, that mixed race identity, and he had what my mother needed: that hair, that skin. She didn’t have it, but her child would have “good hair.”
How happy she was sitting with me and my cousin Lawrence in Woodhill Park in Cleveland, Ohio! I am wearing tennis shoes that buckle, as I had trouble with the right-handed lessons. I am older than my cousin to the right of me, but much smaller.
She speaks this way to no one else.
At this point, I just wish for her acceptance, realizing that she is not capable of giving it. Timing is just awful… I realize that my mother is near the end of her life, and I wish it could be a more peaceful ending, but I guess that it can’t, for I have become a harlot to her, and I am not sure why, but let me tell you how painful it is for her dementia to do all her talking, and for me to bear the brunt of what she says:
These are my “official” “Harlot Days“
according to my mother; trying to listen to her; trying very hard to continue to be a good daughter; right now she is telling me how Trump could be a good president.
God is in charge and she has wisdom and knowledge, but I don’t. She is saying that she belongs to God, and that is all that matters; building a wall, but not like the wall in Jericho, but a wall that will keep out harlots like me.
I’m typing as she talks,
you have to stay with Jesus Christ; God owns everything, all the silver and gold, and she is waiting to go home; she knows who she belongs to, and nothing is impossible through Him; she knows what she’s talking about, no one knows what it’s like to live under Republicans; she is dying in Jesus’s arms. All she knows is that Jesus is coming for her. She started getting hungry last week; it had been a year since she felt hunger, and she is delighted with hunger, and she will eat her fill when Jesus comes back to get her, and she could almost eat a dog, if he was cooked well done, she is cooking a skillet of cornbread in the morning, and she hopes that I have a blessed life, “why am I talking short?” she just asked me, but I am not talking short. I am listening carefully as she changes my name to “Harlot” (Jean Harlow, Gene Harlot).
I just do not want to be called a “harlot”; “harlot” is not my name. I can’t believe that she would want to claim the birth of a harlot as something she accomplished.
I am trying very hard to be a good daughter, but there’s only so much of this “harlot” namecalling I can take.
Thank you for taking part in this brief tale of a harlot, by a harlot.
a list on which my name does not appear. Mostly famous white prostitutes, I am neither white nor famous –I’m going to sneak a “yet”in right here, because ya never know what life may require of me, and if it ever does, I will remove this post, but I am neither white (never will be, despite the efforts of products like Nadinola, her favorite skin bleaching, skin whitening product.
Not long ago, she told me that when she looked at me, she did not see herself; why not? I am indeed her daughter, and I have never disowned her, and she hates my part in 9:08, a Day in the life, of The United States of Poetry, in which I recite a passage of my poem, “The Linoleum Rhumba” –she had an opportunity to portray the maid, and that is exactly what she was, a maid who toiled very hard, and worked since her days as a six-year-old girl toiling in the fields, picking cotton, fingers bleeding raw, but she wouldn’t do this, as in her mind she was being asked to portray the “lowest”. My mother always worked! She was never a stay-at-home woman. Sun-up and past sun-down.
And even then before dementia took over her mind, I could not make her understand that I was saying something quite different in this passage of my poem:
I dream of my mother accepting herself. hair and all. An accepting me, for I really am her daughter, although she disowns her very own harlot.
the way my mother remembers herself, and so do I.
I’ll always love my mama. 1973, “The Intruders”