G. J. Sanford 

What I Don’t Know (About My Mother)


I don’t know if she liked meat—

blackened, or the blood


of medium-rare. I don’t know how she felt

about avocados,


whether she revered them as I do

or reeled from the reek


of them. I don’t know her favorite

animal, but I know


she had a plush blanket upon which

was pictured the howling head


of a white wolf. I will never know

her fantasies,


but she collected tiny pewter wizards,

each of them clutching a stone


of glass. Did she carry them out of her

youth? Did they bring her


comfort during the long dull nights,

when the passages


of her brain must have been stretched

into shapes terrifying


and unfamiliar? What did she think

about choirs


of angels? And when she heard their arias

ringing in her ears,


did she walk taller feeling blessed

by some god


or did she think to see a therapist—

or just medicate


the only way she knew how? I want to know

what she thought of


that night she swallowed stolen fire

one last time,


what harsh tune was trapped

in her head when she rid herself finally


of herself. I want to know if the echo of that tune

is born again in my brain,


withering away the forest of my resistance.

Will I, like her,


deny the coincidence of life, encompass,

in the end, a misgiving?


G. J. Sanford is a queer poet and writer birthed and corrupted in Nevada’s high desert. Their work has appeared in Lady/Liberty/Lit, River Styx, Frontier Poetry, december, and others. They are, with writer Logan Seidl, co-editor of the Vitni Review.