“Mornings Without Mother” by Gabrielle Madrid

Every year on my birthday
Mommy tells me I'm a bastard...

Thin boxer shorts are my only protection
against the magma hot coffee
I've spilled on my thigh.
I watch it singe delicate hairs, and the first layer of skin
As the steam of my skin lingers around me
in a lonely ghost kind of way. I get easily spooked.
The stench of old coffee and a burning epidermis
remind me of a stunted childhood.
I wound myself, just like mother would.
I don't soar off my seat screaming;
there's no rush to even dry myself off.
I just sit there and take it.
Until my skin turns pink and shiny,
I take it. I will always take it.
My only companion is a gentlemen and his burro,
looking down on me from his almighty label.
He doesn't think I am a man either,
he never speaks to me.
I have to prove that I deserve love.
This is done every year, to show her that I am good.
I am smoldering and alone, and now, maybe
I am the son she has always wanted.