– Annika Pecchia-Bekkum, Minnesota

“My mother is iconic,” so
I thought, aged eight, striking likeness.
Do you know the Migrant Mother?
In black and white, her hand to mouth.
When I looked into her careworn face,
I saw my mother and the Great
Depression in my family.

In her face, I saw all of the
myriad cares and pains of my
brothers’ illnesses. Her hands, I
thought the veins were like mountains, so
prominent, holding my bloodied
hands: “You need to stop washing them.”

In her distant look, memories
I couldn’t see nor comprehend.
My mother, distant mystery,
but a warm one, as she tells me,
“It’ll get better. It’s not your
fault. It will get better, I swear.”

Sometimes, I used to worry, when
I rarely stopped worrying how
dirty my palms were, what was on
your mind when you looked that way, hand
up and mouth pursed in thought, what it
was that stole your gaze worlds away.

As you held us, Maman, who told
you that it will get better? Who held
you and said, “It’s not your fault?”
When the terrors came, and we cried,
who was strong with you? Anyone?
Did you have to be strong alone?

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