“Depression is a side effect of dying.”
-John Green, The Fault in Our Stars

Your Mama dies the day Baby comes home.

She stands by the window limp,
fogs the glass with her shallow breaths.

She asks for your name and you tell her, though she
doesn’t remember.

Your hands, too small for motherhood, learn
callouses bloom in a heart ripped from
motherly protection.

Baby is yours now

Baby calls you    Mama

Mama’s eyes disappear
hidden by hollow

She’s silent.
She does not know how to
speak; you must show her.

Can’t leave Mama alone, she needs to clean herself, you must

clean her. Find Mama curled up in a bathtub,
hair knotted, no hint of brush’s touch.
Clothes soaked, exposed bones stretch her
like wrinkled parchment, damp from
water still dripping, she stares

always stares.

She trips over toes curled with pain and sleeps
on the bleached bathroom tiles, taunted by such
harsh, unfiltered light.

Finish your homework before dinner.
Raise Baby to be good.
Raise Mama to be better.
Must make Mama eat her food.

Mama will not feed Baby til you teach Mama how to walk.

Editor’s Note: Abigail Jones’ poem won the student-judged contest in Poetry