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For Mum on reading my poems

if you don’t understand them don’t worry don’t try to worry your way into them and
take them apart as if you must apprehend meaning don’t try to follow them the way you
would wounds on my body instinctively blindly don’t let yourself be hurt in the places
I’m hurt just because I’ve spoken of them because I know my pain is always yours
because I can’t help but disorient you with the incomplete inchoate maps I draw to find
my way forward to name and stitch together to lay to rest so while this is an exposure
both of raw damage and of love don’t believe these are unhealed places the fact that I
speak of them means the suffering has eased and when I’ve needed you I’ve called you to
my side like the very early morning I lay on the cold floor grieving while my daughter
slept like the many times I seemed unhappy unfixable unaware that each of these times
opened a corresponding wound in you now I step my way through things like an adult
clean up my own messes genuinely mostly cope so please take these outcries as
moments in the whole the numinous process and understand that at each turn I’ve been
steadied by this: your love.

Esther Ottaway is an award-winning Tasmanian poet whose work has been published in UQP’s anthology Thirty Australian Poets, The Australian, The Canberra Times, literary journals and anthologies. She has won a Varuna Fellowship and Arts Tasmania grants. She has written commissioned works for Adelaide Cabaret Festival and Festival of Voices.