Dear Mother

Katrina Kaye

Do you remember the time
they put the caution sign in our front yard?
A response to the speed bumps
installed on our road in early July.
Bright yellow, diamond warning:
Caution: Speed Humps Ahead.

We laid eyes on it,
exchange no words, yet
immediately decided
it had to go.

We didn’t file a complaint to the city,
didn’t make phone calls or ask any questions,
We didn’t even bother waiting for dark,
but immediately sized wrench to nut
and unscrewed the metal tower.

I lowered the sign to the ground
as you removed the bolt,
it slid easily free.
Too easy.

It was large and heavy,
but I was strong then and I carried it alone,
placing it effortlessly into the bed of the truck.
Back when you had the Chevy, remember?

I returned to find you staring down at
grated metal sunk deep in the earth.
“What about this?” you said, kicking the stump.
“I suppose we could just cover it up.”

I gripped the protrusion firmly
with bare hands and loosened it

Like Excalibur for stone,
the metal post unsheathed from earth.
“That’s my girl,” you said and filled the
small square hole with rocks,
as though it had never been there.

We waited until dark to drop the sign off.
I directed you to a discreet dumpster
behind my old elementary school.
It was the same spot I would deposit
trash bags of beer cans
after high school parties
so you wouldn’t find them when you came home.

You kept the motor running
as I jumped into the bed of the truck
and stealthy lowered large metal sign
into the near empty dumpster.

We toasted our accomplishment at the local pub,
fearless of repercussions.

Do you remember it mother?
Two women in our wild state,
defending our homestead
while the men slept,
no attempt at apology,
daring them with set jawbones
to strike again?

we were feral then,
we broke up bar fights,
arm wrestled the boys,
and buried our own.

Stood our ground
joined our powers
enacted rebellion.
And now,
I hear your words spray
through my lips.

I have finally mastered your tone
for better or for worse.
I channel your strength through
my veins and I am proud, Mother,
proud and so very grateful.

“Dear Mother” is previously published in La Palabra: The Word is a Woman, Mother and Daughters (2014) and The Last Leaves Literary Magazine (Spring 2022).