Trafika Europe 11 - Swiss Delights

My Mother’s Tears

her makeup the first time, made herself up for nothing because it all ran, staining my mother’s honor, giving her for a moment a mad woman’s face, a body with stiffening limbs, exhausting themselves in spasms as if ropes were pulling them in all directions, drawing them apart, assailing her furious flesh. In another time, a century earlier, there would have been a gleeful rush to photograph my mother, who would have then adorned the plates used to illustrate the woolly theories shrinks invented at the time, images that inevitably evoke a sense of disquiet through the inmates’ troubling beauty, their groans and frantic breathing, their shuddering limbs. When the makeup ran, it would have revealed the pallor of my mother’s cheeks, the cheeks of a strong, shrewd woman who in these circumstances was obtuse, unable to free herself from an obsession she’d already tried to wash away with a flood of tears, an obsession that, to be sure, should have a heavier, more cunning weight than the child in her womb who was defeated by mere contractions. In maternity wards where mothers endure extreme violence before collapsing with joy, just as you might hear their screams, my mother’s crying fit was no doubt punctuated with obscenities launched in caustic tones like impossible, impermissible detonations. It couldn’t have lasted much more than two minutes. No one dared comment when my mother put on her makeup for a second time, especially not the


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