Post-Surgery, My Mother Promises to Change Again

An abstract image with yellow, red, and blue regions melding into one another

Tonight she asks for enchiladas, and my sister
suggests pizza. I think they must want to die.
I’m ashamed to feel this. I roll the shade of

blame down the living room wall, screening
their lives for will. When I’m scared, I call her
weak. One corner: the couch where my mother

cried about her life. This corner: I have never
asked her why she cried behind the cover
of her romance novels. Last week,

when I explained addiction to my grandma,
she screamed, I am the one with the pain! Me!
I didn’t blame her, but I could have.

What’s the point when you yourself become
a knot, that nothing, not even a daughter’s love,
can untie? Words are more powerful than I

have ever been allowed to give them credit for.
I make salmon and brussels sprouts for dinner.
My mom takes a few bites and throws it onto

the counter, disgusted. I don’t want this
responsibility, but someone sacrificed her spirit
to be able to put me in it, say I have suffered,

quietly. This is because I love you.
My mother has never pretended to be important,
not even to herself. I don’t have a daughter,

and probably never will. I have this mind, only,
trying to open the blue in the window, escape
down the secret rope collapsing, inward.

Sara Borjas is a self-identified Xicanx pocha and a Fresno poet. Her debut collection, Heart Like a Window, Mouth Like a Cliff (2019), received a 2020 American Book Award. Borjas was featured as one of Poets & Writers’ 2019 Debut Poets. She has received fellowships from MacDowell, CantoMundo, Postgraduate Writers Conference, and Community of Writers. She believes that all Black lives matter and will resist white supremacy until Black liberation is realized. She teaches creative writing at UC Riverside and the UCR Palm Desert Low-Residency MFA Program but stays rooted in Fresno.