Smoke coiled through the seams of the car
and we sat in the back in the haze while classic rock blared
into your ears and you forgot for a moment that you were a mother,
that you were my mother.
Loosely strumming on the steering wheel,
palms and thumbs drumming.
Music maker child maker —
I wanted to be just like you.
I wanted to be like you until the sun went down because
when the sun went down the bottle came out
and there was dracula —
And the werewolf —
You damaged, fermented
Dragon Woman with hands that curled
to knotted tree branches and poison spat out of you.
I hid in my closet until the lightbulb died.
And I realized I never wanted to be like you.
But you taught me so much.
You taught me to be afraid
(I was afraid of my mother)
So I had to be strong
And you taught me to be strong and to question you
Question everything —
Go against you.
Your vicarious wishes of who I should be
who I was —
But I didn’t have a fucking clue.
And when the morning came that I watched breath escape
your chapped lips for the final time you somehow taught me right there to look Death straight in his face
and fear nothing because I already knew you, Dragon Woman.
And I don’t want to be you but I came from you
you created me — me.
I am the daughter of patricia —
Of teased hair and electric blue eyeliner —
Of wild coolness.
I grew up at the altar of an ‘03 mustang
With empty diet coke cans and Bic lighters on hand.
Bic lighters everywhere
fire always on hand.
And you drummed your primal ancient animal skin beat to the chant in your head —
Do no harm. Take no shit.
The final lesson of my mother.