Joy Ladin

You Will Never See Me as Your Mother

                    for my daughter

You help around the house
we've never shared,

sometimes singing, sometimes quiet,
sometimes ablaze with anger.

Apples burn in your orchard, the teapot shrieks
above your ring of fire.

You can't see me, but I'm there.
Love draws me toward you, love

you can't feel
in the midst of the conflagration

that's all that remains
of our life together.

After all these years, I don't know much about you.
What do you want? Who do you love?

What smells remind you of your childhood?
How did you answer the question

on college applications
about hardships you've overcome? Was one

the incendiary umbilical cord
whose burning still ties you

to me, the parent you refuse to see,
in whom you never grew.

Whose love still blossoms
in the midst of the flames. Blazes

like flame among blossoms.

Joy Ladin is the author of nine books of poetry, including The Future is Trying to Tell Us Something: New and Selected Poems and Fireworks in the Graveyard, and two Lambda Literary Award finalists Impersonation and Transmigration, and The Soul of the Stranger: Reading God and Torah from a Transgender Perspective, a finalist for a Lambda Literary Award and a Triangle Award. She holds the Chair in English at Stern College of Yeshiva University.