Poetry Archive

My Mother Told Me This Would Be Hard

<span>Photo by <a href="https://unsplash.com/@bastnic?utm_source=unsplash&utm_medium=referral&utm_content=creditCopyText">Bastien Jaillot</a> on <a href="https://unsplash.com/s/photos/child-sleep?utm_source=unsplash&utm_medium=referral&utm_content=creditCopyText">Unsplash</a></span>

My Mother Told Me This Would Be Hard

the only way my child will sleep is holding a toy dump truck
it’s wood, and that makes me a good mother
sorts shapes too, and i limit the time he spends delighting 
at a green frog and a purple penguin 

i whisper small promises
read about an ice cream-eating caterpillar
about the wheedle on the needle
about a bunny named nicholas

i sing dreams and big wishes
into bob dylan lyrics
thinking maybe he’ll ask me to dance with him 
if it plays one day at his wedding

one day

i try to teach him words my mother taught me
tell him his dadu’s adrak chai was without rivals  
and haldi will stain everything yellow
but i have forgotten how to say

         i am sorry for insisting on lunchables 
         for shaming you when you packed parathas
         rolled with love in the early morning
         for calling them gross weird               unamerican

the only way my child will sleep is holding a small american flag
he waves it slowly as he drifts off

it’s secure,

and that makes me a good mother




The daughter of Indian immigrants, Sunita Theiss was born and raised in Georgia. She is an alumna of VONA/Voices, and her work has appeared or is forthcoming in MER VOX, Jaggery, Whale Road Review, pidgeonholes, and others. She still lives in Georgia with her family, not far from her childhood home.


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