Why Not End this Experiment?
My mother believes we were not
ready. Does she believe in the camps?
The carnage? The price for insurrection,
for unwillingness to enact burden—
burden placed as yoke. I first learned
the word yoke from the Oregon Trail. 
An integral part of manifesting destiny:
joining animals, joining shoulders
to carry a load. A device for the neck
of the defeated. What can I offer my mother
when we cannot agree on the truth? I send
her flowers. I fill a digital Costco cart
with dehydrated shiitake mushrooms
and nuts she’s not supposed to eat.  
I ask how she makes her misua.
She tells me church is safe. That everyone 
wears a mask. That the Holy Spirit and 
love of our Lord Jesus Christ keeps her
safe. What we don’t say between thank you
and upo or patola and I’m glad you are 
safe is a wound. I read somewhere 
that imposter syndrome finds its roots
in childhood. That the emotional un-
availability of a child’s caregivers makes 
a child prove and prove again their
worth. I tell my mother my friend has died.
My friend who was like a mother. My mother
asks first: Where? I don’t know why I always
fixate on how she always finds the wrong
thing to say. As a child, I corrected her
pronunciation as she read me bedtime books. 
In college, I confessed that memory to a white 
professor, my shame rising to my face: 
Isn’t that messed up? Her blue eyes rolled, 
exasperated—You’re being so sentimental! 
All that means is you’re a writer 
and have been from the beginning!” 
I can’t tell what the truth is from here.
Here are things I know: my titas hide 
their cravings. Pretend they don’t want
pigs’ blood, that their mouths don’t water
when I open a jar of bagoong. I know my 
mother made a life for herself despite 
always being the one
to kill what must be killed.
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