Here is a piece I wrote about being an almost step-monster.
I may never look into the face of a child and be able to let myself melt just because I know they are mine.
I may never be so scared of failure as pure survival instinct looks after its young: viscera screaming when they are lost; Battles of tensions in muscles and bones surrender when they are found.
I may never feel my blood warm in expression under her skin, hydrating her hopes and coloring the webs woven into her fingerprints.
I may never hear my ancestors speak through her delicate mouth, or whisper in my ear when she’s going the wrong direction – or the right one. I may never see them dance with her when her father gives her away.
I may never feel her heartbreak crushing my chest as if the millions of pieces of stained glass were my own when shattered on the floor.
And I may never treasure her triumph as if it was my own grand kill in a time of scarcity for the tribe.
But I become part of the ground she stands upon when her legs shake, and she learns to run. And I be a diving board for her when she falls in love with water.
I sing and dance with her in the living room, like my mom and I did, because it was never mother and daughter: it was something else. I can be her something else.
I cut her baby-soft hair when she’s eager to embody the change in her tides, when she is willing to put herself in my hands. Because of trust. Because of immediacy. Because she knows I’ve done this part before. Because I am here.
I listen to her passions evolve, shift, fly away on the wind, become all she is for a little while: the bursting bloom.
I listen to her tears, too, and the memories water holds. The stories it tells so much more competently than words do. The geometries in water that make sadness beautiful.
I answer questions that terrify me because she listens to the answer, and I remember every time a grown-up did that for me. This is the part where she hears the voices of my ancestors speaking through my seasoned mouth.
And we tremble together, figuring this thing out. This other thing we are. Our big hearts cramp, squeezing out the past, and some of our dreams with it. And we find each other there, in that pain, and in the love that grows out of decay.
She may never know the longing in my spacious caverns, occupied only by aching organs with too much room for more. She may never feel the scars that grow there from family torn out ages ago.
She may never be aware of the yearning I was born with, an impulse as ancient as feminine cycles mirror the moon.
My budding so different from hers only beginning. My flowers turning over to compost to be churned by lifeforms so much smaller than I, yet so much more important when I’m gone;
For they will be who carry on what I have left behind; not treasure for my blood, but jewels powdered into soil for new seeds.
No one knows what will grow there, or anywhere my stardust is carried.
Some have generations, and some have dynasties, and some have sacred bloodlines. My legacy will be something else.
I may never look into the face of a child and know she is mine. But she will always be able to look upon my face and know I am her friend.
Copyright © 2018, Sheyorah Aossi
All rights reserved.
Art by John Bauer