The Cliché

by Christine Adams Beckett

Careening down a hill, perched on
her scooter, her only braking method
being a tumbling leap into the grassy median,
my daughter learned how to coast

downhill, finding the brake that she
operated with her rear leg, best applied
while crouching in a ninja position,
her center of gravity low to the ground.

Still, we are here, crouched even
lower to the deck a week later,
her wound festering white and angry
under the all-important Band-Aid.

I rubbed coconut oil on the adhesive,
the memory of screaming fits on a hospital
bed still vivid, while she stared at
my shaking fingers, the image gnawing:

of her lying supine under a bright light,
my strong arms holding hers in surrender while
she hated me and cursed my betrayal,
swearing she’d never trust me again.

I liken the mother-child relationship
to an arranged marriage, a match
made by Natural Caste, for I know
you didn’t choose me, nor I you.

And yet somehow I fell in love with you
without even knowing you, the idea
of you endearing me, inextricably,
with every movement, every internal

biological sound that I couldn’t
decipher from my own. I wonder
if before you were conscious of what
lay beyond that path, you loved me too.

“Rip it off,” you said, in steadfast gaze
knowing full well that somehow I’d
hurt you again, and you me, all the while sharing
the only perdurable love we’d ever know.

With one swift pull, two matching grimaces,
I yanked Rumi’s plaster and let the wound
open to the air, to heal, to scar,
to usher in the light our clouded eyes crave.