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  • I am becoming a regular nomad,
    getting used to packing a backpack in under an hour,
    my new system of organized ziploc bags seems to work well.
    Strange because even a month ago I resented this freedom,
    I couldn't appreciate it because I had become
    so used to
    structuring my life around my mother -
    the freedom only reminded me of her absence,
    the fact that I could no longer claim her as the
    underlying purpose
    of my existence.
    I suppose it still doesn't feel good or liberating,
    although at times I remember to feel grateful
    and that brings a certain amount of peace.

    The image that comes to mind
    is of a boat that was tied to a dock
    but has become untethered
    drifting out alone on a clear lake
    aimless and directionless,
    subject to the whims of wind
    and tide.
    Eventually, even the dock disappears
    from view
    and what is an untethered boat
    if the thing it was tethered to
    no longer exists?

    Boats at least have that cord of string
    which serves as a constant
    material reminder of their past.
    Yet my umbilical cord was cut long ago
    and lately I find myself
    staring into the fleshy coils
    of my belly-button
    as if to will that cord back to life,
    as if to pierce the illusion of flesh
    and enter the sacred world
    of blood memory.

    In the last year of her life my mother
    sprouted a new kind of umbilical cord -
    a tube inserted into her abdomen
    from which she was fed.
    A strange but fitting reversal of the natural order,
    no longer feeding her child in the womb,
    but her child of the flesh now becoming
    the sacred conduit of nutrition,
    the mother to her mother,
    all the while knowing
    this small act could never match
    the gifts of 9 months of gestation
    and 23 years-worth of care.

    In light of this rediscovery
    a memorial tattoo
    feels like a sloppy substitute
    to this belly button.
    What better reminder then this strange
    body-part that seems to point both
    inward and outward,
    that crosses the bridge between the flesh of one
    and another,
    between my mother and I?
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