surviving

Matrilineal Descent
Robin Morgan

Not having spoken for years now,
I know you claim exile from my consciousness.
Yet I wear mourning whole nights through
for that embrace that warmed my ignorant lust
even past intimacies you had dreamed.
I played your daughter-husband, lover-son, to earn
both Abraham and Ishmael’s guilt
for your indulgence, and in time, reproach.
Who sent us to that wilderness we both now know,
although I blamed you for that house of women
too many years. But Time is a waiting woman,
not some old man with a stupid beard,
and when I finally met my father I found him
arrogant and dull, a formican liar
with an Austrian accent. Well, we meet
the phantom that we long for in the end,
and getting there is half the grief.
Meanwhile, my theories rearrange themselves
like sand before this woman whose flaccid breasts
sway with her stumblings, whose diamonds
still thaw pity from my eyes.
You’re older than I thought. But so am I,
and grateful that we’ve come to this:
a ragged truce, an affirmation in me
that your strength, your pushiness, your sharp love,
your embroidery of lies—all, all were survival tools,
as when, during our personal diaspora, you stood
in some far country blocks away,
burning poems I no longer sent you
like Yahrzeit candles in my name, unsure of me at last
who sought a birthright elsewhere,
beyond the oasis of your curse,
even beyond that last mirage, your blessing.
Mother, in ways neither of us can ever understand,
I have come home.
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