Why Couldn’t You Love Me?

(heart, author’s collection)


In the purlieu of her heart

From child’s first glimpse until

Last, her mother was a rebus—

Prideful woman, never frowzy

Yet her features created

Coded pictures which sent

Messages seemingly mixed

Intentionally unclear, obviously cruel

 (Italicized critical humiliation, disgust)

Beginning with precisely defined

Eyebrows that might signal

Disbelief, censure, mocking

Contempt, derision…

And steel-blue eyes, winter ice

Conveying phrase, “looks could kill”

Strained control of nerve-snapping

Narrow-eyed glint’s silent screech

“I wish you’d never been born”—

Her nostrils flared frequently

Anger, superiority unequivocal…

Lips, once alluring, transformed

Into lipstick’d thin tight line, bitter

Outrage at curves life had thrown…

This puzzle, “mother”

Never solved by daughter

Who had most needed her

Love, close attention…

Lost, frightened, the girl

Would hazard glance, holding

Breath, fearful of speaking

And try to fit pieces of curt

Syllables…assorted spoken

Unspoken, half-spoken words…

She saw chiseled in stony face—

Which, grimacing, had pushed her

Out of the womb, as far away

As she could without risking

Allegations of abandonment—

How in Heaven or Hell could

Such a portrait emerge that

Wouldn’t cripple child who

Even at the end, phoned her

Mom at nine each morning

When she knew the woman

Would be having coffee, toast

While tolerating clingy loyalty

Of such calls which begged

Beneath polite chatter, for

Connection withheld all her life…

Nearing 70, child’s mute tears ask: 

“Why couldn’t you love me?”

©Leyde Ryan, 2022 ~ All rights reserved.

Rebus–A puzzle where you decode a message consisting of pictures representing syllables and words

Perlieu–An outer adjacent area of any place