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We Talk About Mothers (Monsters)

Updated: Mar 12, 2023

They ask us how we do it

It referring to exactly what you think

What I thought of as beautiful, blooming

In the moment, private and unfazed by gaze

Wilts in response to the crudeness

That seeps out of cracked soil

We talk about our mothers

While referring to monsters

I say, and she nods

Or hint at our monsters

While referring to mothers

She says, and I laugh

Did you know that it can be fun?

To find someone who also laughs

At eternal, maternal misery

Which I carry around in tiny flasks

And pour into our drinks

To get her to say a few honest lines like

We are daughters, not war zones

And our bodies were not our own

Which I then sip, swallow, and succumb to

Because when the truth strikes a match

All our scars burn… beautiful… and blooming

Imagine dry, lustful branches that become a scorching,

entangled ring of firewood that repeatedly peaks

into the night sky from friction with every touch

Afterwards, we go back to talking about

Our mothers, which we refer to as monsters

Which explains our mutual fear of

explosive people, well-buried mines that

left holes in our bodies, in which more

monsters appear, lodging and playing

We seem to have so much in common,

From the basics – queer and female,

To foreigners who prefer the hopes of

Spring and only wear woody men’s cologne

To the shared reluctance on elaboration –

What do we mean by mothers and monsters?

We are opposites. She is a mathematician, carefully

Calculating how much to add on, giving me

A detail per day until it sums up to the word war, vague

I am a writer, the neurotic, reckless type, who is

tired of tiptoeing around metaphors so I respond

with a full story, filled with pains and who to blame

More importantly, she hides her monsters

Ignores them in an attempt to tame their aims

While I stare mine down and when they don’t

Surrender, I resort to screaming and shouting

And fighting and attacking them right back because I learn

by example and these monsters were also mothers and mentors

She pretends her mine-left holes do not exist while I refill my own

Just like how she always stripped me down, over and

Over before she uncovered any inch of herself

Which was well-hidden under a maze of cloth

And hair, around which she had to guide my hand

Helping fill my holes without acknowledging her own

We talk about mothers and monsters

Laugh at our stale pain that we then numb

With the taste of each other’s unsaid words

What we can’t explain turns us into

Monsters to each other, her emotionless and cold

Me, violent and scorching

They asked us how we do it

Out of crudeness and not curiosity

They say two wrongs don’t make a right

Just like two holes are puzzles pieces that don’t fit

It disgusts me, their smirk, but at least I have

Something to be angry at instead of her


Lesbian. I finally came out as lesbian. It only took me twenty years. When I finally fell for a girl for the first time, I felt everything I had began to suspect I was incapable of. It was freeing and exhilarating, yet the relationship was tainted by both of our past pains, some of which had to do with homophobia, some of which had not. I lost her as suddenly as I found her. So, I tried to blame our destruction on all the external factors because there's something about letting go of your first girl that brings out the most intoxicating desperation in you. The opening and closing stanzas of the poem insert the voices of males who fetishise lesbianism to critique this fetishisation, while the rest of the poem explores how trauma created love languages that stem from hurt, fear, and even shame. At the end of the day, this is a story about two people who grew up with terrible examples of how to love, one of whom is not coping very well with the mistakes that cost her what could have been.



Jessica Shuran Yu is studying English and creative writing at Fordham University at Lincoln Centre, where she writes a column focusing on LGBTQ+ and feminist issues. When she's not stressing about her writing, she can be found spending way too much money on clothes or laughing at the most inappropriate times.

Instagram: @_jessicayu_

Cover Photo Source: Shonda Land


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