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by Xochitl-Julisa Bermejo

Thank you Mommy
Because when I sat
On your lap and played
With the rubbery ball
That grew along your smooth
Neck, you didn't slap
My hand away, you never
Got shy.  And even let me
Playfully finger the rough
Scar that arrived in its
Absence.  And when I asked,
"Did it hurt?" You smiled
And kissed my hand,
"Only a little, mi bruja chula."
Thank you Mommy
Because when I brushed
Your hair and counted
The strands that fell onto
The bathroom tile you kept
The number for me.
And when enough had fallen
You took me shopping and let
Me run through the rows of
Synthetic styling of Barbie perfection
That brightened my candied eyes.
And later when I asked, "Why don't
you wear yours?" You answered
Honestly, "Because it's not me."
Thank you Mommy
Because when I laid
On your chest wrapping
Your gold chains around
My fingers, eyeing the lion
Medallion throned at your throat,
Polishing the pink ruby clutched
In its jaws and asked, "Can
I have this when you die?"
Daydreaming of princess games,
Your eyebrows frowned for only a
Second before you kissed
My forehead and said, "And
Who else's would it be?"
Thank you Mommy because I remember it all,
Remember how you protected me from the fall.

Xochitl-Julisa was inspired to write this poem by her mother's strength and courage, that continues to inspire her today. She would like to dedicate "Lioness" to the courage and strength of the mothers and fathers who fought so hard to stay with their children, but tragically didn't make it. She would especially like to remember Pablo Bermejo, Librada Lucero Saucedo and Elizabeth Kennedy. A form of this poem was previously published in the Pasadena City College's 2007 Inscape Magazine.