The photographs I return to when I feel I could hate my mother:
In one she is holding me up to prove
how well she lined my eyes with kohl
to protect them from the desert dryness. I am a baby
with a pink Lamborghini who is selfish with birthday cake,
but still refuses to eat until taken outside and distracted with lizards.
I am scowling from the heat
of my father’s Peugeot 405 where they perch me for poses.
I wish there were something else.
Something more happily complicated and meaningful,
with curled strings and white spaces, like in her wedding photos.
I am jealous of my father,
having her so young and pretty.
An old boxing ring had been converted to a stage.
My parents danced there in the spotlight
to music they knew and everyone else knew
but I do not know.
In another, she is biting her bottom lip, looking sad.
There is a box above her: orthodynamic headphones.
The letter A carved into the chair.
Behind her hair, half-obscured,
a framed poem with words I can’t make out: three lines of what?
I used to draw images of her with crayons
in the cleaning supply closet of the old house,
before they were students, when we were still refugees.
Between the Clorox and the mop
I drew her hair as a pentagon.
Once I made three lines.
No one could figure out what they meant.
Here she occurs as a series of green and damaged
With a paint chipper I etched fantasies—
she and I would sleep all day in a bare white room
in a bed that smelled like greenery.
In the background, a television set and constant static.
Notice the attention to detail.
Notice the absence of the father.