My Mother and I-

my mother and i swim in circles of music

i think it’s the deepest language in which we know each other

she taught me how my fingers should graze across piano keys

and how my breath traveled through my body to sing sweet songs,

i learned how coarse calluses worked to bend against ringing strings

so many lessons blooming and blossoming into who i am today


she nimbly flies across black and white notes,

while i traverse the halls, a new aria humming through our walls

we listen to broadway soundtracks together as we drive,

she laughs at lyrics we’ve heard hundreds of times and i try to harmonize

she makes jokes about singers and we talk about her time in conservatories

i bother her with questions on church modes and she smiles at me


my mother and i swim in circles of friendship

i think it’s the deepest method in which we know each other

she is my first best friend, the first and longest i have ever had

she knows my fears and dreams and wishes, more than i know them myself

she knows the flicker in my eyes, the dips in my voice, more than i know them myself

so many memories blooming and blossoming into who i am today


i cannot keep secrets from her, even when i know they’re in my favor-

like the time i tore a poster from england, and she taped it back together for me

she knows the name of every friend i have ever had and their life story

every trivial moment that connects itself through me

we watch reruns of shows we’ve seen hundreds of times, staying up until midnight

she shushes me as i quote my favorite lines and make quips at characters


my mother and i swim in circles of our culture

i think it’s the deepest whisper in which we know each other

foreign tongues roll through her, like water from a ravine

i hear her speak to my grandmother, and i try to mimic the fluidity of her words

i watch her hang red decorations for luck, avoiding groups of four, eating mooncakes

so many stories blooming and blossoming into who i am today


she grew up in latin america, volcanoes rumbling inside and around her

and i miss beaches i have never been to, despite being born in water

she speaks perfect spanish with strangers, a sense of comfort because

she always feels like home to everyone

i learned how to roll my tongue, a subtle flip in horchata and longer in perro

i recall mountains painted across the sky, and together we breathe in and out


my mother and i swim in circles of storms

i think it’s the deepest fire in which we know each other

i feel like flames convulse within me, and threaten to burn me alive

my mother is a soothing spring rain that quenches a silent fury

she is a wistful candle that flickers into coolness

so many heartaches blooming and blossoming into who i am today


sometimes i scorch everything in sight, and my mother whirls through

our voices become crackles of lightning, threatening to strike

we crash against one another, waves in a tumultuous monsoon

our regard turns into our deepest flaws and aching

but without fail, we extinguish each other

collapsing into steady ripples and serene winds


my mother and i swim in circles of patience

i think it’s the deepest virtue in which we know each other

she has taught hundreds and hundreds of students

i have watched some graduate and leave and come back to her

i watch a younger generation learn scales and what a pedal is

so many legacies blooming and blossoming into who i am today


i learned my diligence from her, in most things i do

the stroke of my handwritten notes, my yearning for knowledge

my stubborn love for writing stories that will take decades to complete

but she takes my hand, bearing endurance into me

as i find the kindness within me to be a healer to my friends,

to accept the things i cannot change and the things i wish i could


my mother and i swim in circles of perseverance

i think it’s the deepest emotion in which we know each other

every fiber of her being expresses it towards me

i hold her hand and i think of what it would be like to be without her

but it’s too painful to even consider

so many moments blooming and blossoming into who i am today


we drive on never ending roads, unyielding until darkness prevails

we shop at an asian market, stopping for bubble tea and popcorn chicken on the way

we spend hours racing through bookshelves, scanning for the perfect novel

we gesture to each other, my breaths intertwined with breaks in her playing

we prattle continuously, i have told her so much that her ears must bleed

and i think that most of all, we swim in circles of love


- maddy manning-bi