My Mouth Versus Your Mouth

By Devon J. Moore

Featured Art: Miss Loïe Fuller by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec

Gwyneth Paltrow is on the air again
saying something about the difficulty of being
a mother on set is more difficult than being
a mother in an office, on a train, commuting
to those 9 to 5s. She says you have it easier
when your life is synchronized to the needs of mouths
that are not your mouth, to the needs of bosses
that don’t know your name. You have it easier when
you’re alone in a room with a baby,

when the sun hasn’t risen and your chest is dripping milk
and you wonder if today is the day the paycheck
or the 7 o’clock bus or the sun won’t come.
Gwyneth, I don’t have a baby,
but my dread is bigger than your dread,
my breasts are bigger, heavier, than your breasts.
Do you still feel the need to compare?
How about this? My cat would be cuter than your cat
if it hadn’t been for that sick neighbor and his box cutters.
My lover left and his back got smaller,
more quickly, than your lover’s back.
My dad dying sucked more than your dad dying sucked.
I could do this ridiculousness all day. But, Gwyneth,
the memory of my mother needs me
to say, that novel she always wanted to write
never got written. I was a needy daughter,
maybe even needier than your daughter.
I demanded
she look at me instead
of a book or the movie on the TV,
and maybe, Gwyneth, you were
in it, being thinner than my mother
but not prettier. There were days
my pretty mother didn’t look at me
because she couldn’t see past the dark
space in herself and I hated her.
There was a day my mother cried in the laundromat
when a woman, another mother, asked her what she did
for a living, and when my mother said she was a home
health care aide, the woman said that meant
my mother was nothing
but a maid.
The color of blood is more vivid and harder to clean
in my daydreams than in your daydreams,
and a powerless life is harder to describe to the powerful
than the sound of my mother crying on the rug.
But I’ll try.


Originally published in NOR 18: Fall 2015

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