david is goliath
children dive-bomb a crocodile
catfish swallow corpses
hairy caterpillars -
scalp collectors -
banyan leaves rasp
mosquitoes bring death
more than any other creature
You claimed problems with language, imagined flaws in your vocality: mute in a miserable job, stung, tied in self-blame. We sought silver in the panning. That’s the shot, your partner says; positive bloody thinking. But your toddler's preverbal shrieks were the revelation in clear meaning. You spoke up at work and the changes came home, threatening your partner.
We didn’t realise, when you took ownership of your self, the trespass on territory marked for his kin:
your real job is to fit in, you’re in our town now darl, best practice your English because we don’t need to make an effort to understand, why can’t you make your point like this or that so we can pretend not to hear however you twist your tongue, we’ll just ignore you because Asian girls are supposed to look after their elders and respect only goes one way in this rural town, there’s a pecking order of conditional love and you’re at the bottom in case you haven’t worked it out by the way we casually disregard your feelings
We discovered our insecurities were collateral for in-laws to short the changes they need. Yours encamped to crowd your fire and so betrayed their long shadows. They were so close, entitled, reducing you to a flicker, an ember lacked air. I am deeply sorry for my arrogance, pushing positivity, showing off my rude coping, patronizing our feelings which did not need fixing.
The truth is you speak and our stories cohere.
I asked my partner: Were you were raised by a single parent? I was. I know what to expect – a rocky bed – but I arose to grow flowers better than I was shown. I do not worry about my girls, we can survive you and these people, we’ll transplant from this noxious hometown. The history that hurt me is now the grounds of my strength, this utter faith I earned in myself as the mother bear I’ve yearned for, and learned I’ve become.
His family tree feeds on blood and validation. To germinate new growth, burn these old structures with an easy rage – awakened from ringed helplessness – and the stand in our own authority is the same whether to an audience of one or many.
Let's relinquish the rosy outlook, martyr making the best of things, to recognize our grit. I am proud of you E, I am proud of my mother, of us. I am proud of our partners who chose rebirth as their own live young, the future. Our mettle scores our full chests and freedom.
Rebecca Trowbridge has been a soldier, a geologist and now juggles family, high school teaching and writing. She has lived and worked around Australia from the outback to the coast. She has independently published books for young people and is working on her first poetry collection. She has a Master of Science in Volcanology and wants you to know that lava flows downhill.