Natasha Wein

Natasha Wein: Family Therapy, To My Parents

Family Therapy

When it is time
and not everybody is ready
will they build a chrysalis
around my coiled spine
or will my father slam
the casket lid shut
its final inch
when my mother
isn’t looking?

(our car trunk
full one-too-many
suitcases)

My mother’s guilt
is just slipping
from her grief.
Be gentle
with what is still
swelling.

To My Parents

My mother married my father and my father, his job,
or so I am told. It was he who wanted a third child:

a third child increases the number of possible interactions
from one to four, making for a more interesting family unit.

It is not his fault that I have become an emotional
appendage of my mother, just like nothing is anyone’s fault.
My mother breastfed me her rejected wedding
vows, an inheritance I filled up on. Famine can distort
your own child into a last meal. Polar bears, chickens,
sharks, spiders, rats. Humans are no exception.

Mother—you lovely tired selfless selfish squirming
lifevest of a thing. It’s time to rest. You’ve done your job.

My father’s job is 20 years ago and so is his love, or
what is left of my love for him, and is there a difference?
My empty hands are hurt and angry fists—open palms,
expired: love’s hurt, a sour wound that won’t close and
its sick punishment of a performance. The edges unfastened
by the long pull of a hangnail, running, like the ropes
of a theater’s rigging system. Unsolicited encores peeling
back the curtains to unveil the same bloody opera:

I need you.

His seat, spotlit. Always his cue, but never the right line.
My monologue, his debut. A feeble falter on the days
he doesn’t quit early. Different words for the same thing:

You disappoint me.

And 20 years from now, I will meet him again,
shy and humbled by dependence: a spoiled body to buoy
until he misplaces the second half of his jokes and is
no more my father. I am scared like a child for him to die,
for that is when I will know how to love him the most.

And just before, will he bequeath to me his old conflict,
backwards:

why to raise a dying man when you could a budding child?

Natasha Wein (she/her) is an emerging artist and poet raised in the San Francisco Bay Area now working out of Stockbridge, Massachusetts. Her writing parallels her painting process and has featured in her art exhibits since 2017. Her poetry appears in Another New Calligraphy and 8Poems. She contributes visual art and writing regularly to Loose Connections, the Ehlers Danlos Society’s e-magazine. For more on her work, go to www.nweinart.com or find her on Instagram at @nweinart and @berkshire_resin_art