Once apon a time
Mother was a fistful of sticks propped in a corner. To steal her hard tiny face she had broken Mona’s kewpie doll. When we were hungry we slept. While we slept our hair grew into one dark pillow. Spiders built and lost kingdoms in our hair. Once a month our mother caught fire and beat us to put her out. The sparks got in our eyes and we would cry while she hit us, rubbing our dirty lids with dirty fists and hiding behind our faded blue hoop skirts. She lay whimpering for days on the floor with her eyes rolled up. She wouldn’t move when we poked her. In our dreams she was made of cotton and many-tiered cakes. We were always hungry. We learned to chew twigs and each other’s hair. Sometimes, when she slept, we broke off bits of her and made soup. The next day our vomit was black. The boys eventually got tired and wandered off. The girls stayed longer. Some of us are still home with mother.