Mother: A Portrait

Kezia Miller

Red rivers flow, and fog glazes her eyes. 
Two sockets sunk like craters in the sky. 
Her pale, dull face numb and dry. 
There is life, a slight flicker in sight. 
But craving sneaks in, destroying any  
Yes, death. Death would be best. 
Yet why let go? So much more to shatter,  
so much more to blow. 
Her stagnant incontinence stains  

the floors—it trickles its way  

through the walls and doors. 
A warm sensation scrapes down her throat. 
It burns. It tingles and she chokes 
on consumption. Compulsion. Obsession. 
Popov raindrops fall down my cheeks, 
inhaling notes of fermented rye and wheat.  
The sugar sticks to me as I wail and weep. 

Like a cigarette, crackling ashes 
ignite. Hot embers  
catch fire and smoke is in sight. 
Why do I come back?  
do I always come back? 


Her words are scars, they bite and  
sting. They prick and poke and  
always cling.  

Why do I come back?  
do I always come back? 

Maybe I crave a motherly figure, 
the lingering of Bond Number 9, 
gardenia, vanilla, and vetiver,  

or the whisper of goosebumps as her brush tickles my scalp.  
Maybe I crave the transcendent, soft lullabies traced on my arm 
or her warm embrace when I’m in any harm. 

I can’t go back. 
Not any longer. 
She’s trapped in her cage,  
consumed in acetic flavor, captured in  
anger, blame, and lame victimization. 
My mother, her portrait once vibrant  
in color—now stained, crumbling, and battered,  
like an old book  
who has lost its cover. 

Contributor's Note

Kezia Miller is a senior studying English and minoring in Creative Writing and DHSS. After she graduates, she and her husband will move to Kentucky to undertake their dream of cultivating a flower farm. She plans to continue her education in and passion for writing and hopes to find a job where she can apply both! She would like to thank both Professor Vogrin and her peers for their support and guidance and whose talent and insight have been invaluable.