by Alan Hanson
I have decided, Mother, to give you a gift. I have decided, Mother, Mother who now goes by Erin, to give you a version of me you can fold and carry. I have decided, Erin, whose birthday is now somewhere in a month stripped of dates, to make up for the cold, stone skin I wrapped myself in years ago when you turned ghost in Colorado. This is all I have to give.
How our recent past is seasonally punctuated: I drive miles upon miles into the hearts of a manufactured family I have cultivated in replacement of the standard structure. My nuclear loves are in my eyes like spikes and cross-continentally a system of strong vine has wrapped itself in new definitions of family. I live in a technicolor dream that screams and I am rooted in happiness. Yet three times a year you fumble a phone and delicately ask How are things and Do you miss me and Why does your sister never talk to me?
I have an arsenal of answers. For years I sharpened knives to deftly cut your core out of you. To hold it in my palm and present to you the image of your absence, of your falseness, of your fracture. But you, too, are a perfect and accidental existence. And I, healed, have no energy to war you again. I can only politic and nod. I can say Things are fine and Yes sometimes I do and I don’t know maybe you should call her. I could cut, Erin, oh Erin Lee, oh Daughter of Linda, how I could cut. But my engine has no more pistons for revenge.
I have decided, Stranger, to give you a gift. When your ivory and hungry fingers tapped keys through blues and whites to request that we are publicly listed as family I shook. It is a request I made for the latter half of my life answered by snow drifts in phone lines and bird-bone promises. But now, with my weapons collecting dust, I accept that this is the form in which you can bond back to me. And I will gift you the confirmation of your request. And you may flip through jpegs of me and my new family, my new family who is Cuban and Mexican and Irish and Italian, and my new girlfriend who is beautiful and a lighthouse, whom you may never meet, and my home in California, which was once your home, too, and you can keep these things. You may fill in the blanks you helped stretch. Blanks the size of a life. That is what you can have of me. Images and information through your router and your glassy eyes; until you learn to build a highway back to me.