Text in Mom by Hannah Lloyd Rindlaub:
A carny through and through.
She spent her childhood summers working the cotton candy booth at my great grandfather’s traveling carnival. Her ears, nostrils, lashes and brows would be frosted with pink and blue sugar for months.
I am proud to have her perfect arches and dainty knees; she can keep the spider veins and saggy ass. Traipsing around the gummy house pant-less wearing my father’s t-shirt soaked in cold sink water, then rung, she is flustered in the August heat. She re-soaks the t-shirt. Topless in the bathroom, sink still running, she ties her hair back. I have her eyebrows too. She says they are pointy rooftops over our eyes. She wipes her brow with the wet shirt and reclothes, unphased by the shirt’s chill. She drapes herself in front of the muttering fan.
We sit in the pew with our candles. I pick at mine. We almost never go to church but here we are Christmas Eve. I hear her voice for the first time. I stop singing and take in her sugared words. Then Silent Night goes dark when she decided to impersonate Johnny Cash right there in the pew. A lump of charcoal bobs in her throat. I don’t have a beautiful voice.
We devour her famous meat loaf sitting around our table. It’s a mushy March. Sweetie, the cat they gave me for my ninth birthday, sprawls on the wood floor, her growing mass spilling into the cracks. We love her fat. The shelter gave her the name Sweetie and as we spoil her, the name becomes more and more ironic. My brother says, “I wish I was Sweetie.” We watch with envy as she slowly rolls her huge belly to the other side, purring in our presence. “I am Sweetie,” my mom says. We laugh cause it’s true. For the most part. Unlike our lumbering cat my mother carries the world between her shoulders, where her tattooed swallow flies.
She never cries. But when I do, she will hold me and know what is hurting with out having to ask. She will say, “le coeur j'une petite bête,” (the heart is a little beast). Then she will make me a root beer float.
We are watching Steel Magnolias on my laptop.The screen bobs as my body convulses in blubbers.She raises her arm over her head and says, “Oh god.” I can’t see her tears but I am so happy to know she is finally crying too.
I used to pluck our eyebrows. I don’t anymore