The first time my mother tried to tell me she loved me
she had said too many things
neither of us could forgive.
It was an attempt at an apology,
but it sounded so angry and unwilling -
there was too much teeth
for me to even think it could be love.
In my family, no one says “I love you”
to indicate loving. Instead we say,
“I’m thinking of you,”
“Study well,” and
“See you soon.” I realize
how cold, how clumsy it must sound in English,
how much the mouth has to move,
and, even after it all, how unsatisfying.
The first time, I had to ask if he loved me,
and I savored it on my tongue like a piece of sugar,
relishing the taste of the words.
How easy it must have been to say,
and how easily it went down.
Since then, I have taken to asking
if he thinks of me, and when, and
if he wants to see me and, if so, how much.
I realize how clumsy that must sound,
how it must sound as if
I am asking for too much too often,
but loving my mother has taught me
always to ask for more.