A Space for Women of the World
I love my son.
It seems like such a simple statement, an ordinary concept. It’s not news worthy. But maybe, I’m learning, it is. I am dedicated to engaging with the core substance of my son, interacting with his heart and his most fundamental intention to be generous, responsive, and steadfast as he makes his way through his days and years, through places we’ve experienced together, and locations I have never seen, only heard about through him. I am walking toward him, in this unfamiliar dialogue. My love for him remains active and centered and a growing exponent of where we were at his birth.
For us, this year is all about our fractions and exponents. This year, he will be twenty-eight years old; the age that I was when I gave birth to him, twice the age that I am now. I wonder if he sees me as a version of his life within his present reality, my DNA coursing within him reflecting twenty-eight years of my own bodily experiences, confronting many of the choices that my twenty-eight year old self chose to make. I wonder if he is able to inhabit the expression of my invisible tattoos, the dances my body turned down, the books I never reached for and elected to leave unopened on the shelves, the silences of my youth. When he stands in front of the mirror, what are the silences that he sees?
When he stands and looks, what is the substance of his reflection? Does he see the hair that is just beginning to grow above his lip, the broadening shoulders, and the muscular definition developing in his biceps? Does he fix his gaze on the depth of his eyes or the medical apparatus required for his comfortable engagement with the physical world? Or does he focus on the mathematics—what he would add or subtract or carry over to arrive at the proper answer, acceptable to himself? Does he embrace everything that has brought him to this moment where he is able to stand in front of his mirror and even ask these questions?
All we know when we stand before our reflections is all that has come before. We don’t see ourselves as young. As we gaze, we are the oldest we have ever been. We are our wisest selves. We know more and have seen more than we have ever seen. We are epitome.
Loving my son means that I acknowledge how he chooses to present his body to the world. Loving my son means that I do not have a say in the square footage he occupies in our universe, that his space is a portion of the world that I have the supreme privilege to visit but never have the right to rule.
The other day, my son asked me if I was having a mid-life crisis because of the appearance of the stockings I wore beneath my boots, the combination of my jacket with my selected lipstick, the patterns of the cloth that made up the fabric of my blouse. I looked at my son and my son looked at me. I focused on the depth I saw reflected in his eyes and I told him that I was not in the midst of crisis.
My son takes care in the cultivation of his wardrobe. He is particular about the cut of his blazers, the width of his ties, the statement of the colors involved in his plaids. He will try on layers of garments and make several changes to his appearance until it reflects exactly how he feels whenever he is leaving home. Ever since he was a child, he has always understood the power of precision. He is clear about his vision of what he wants the world to see.
His heart is full of polka dots, uneven stripes, and pastel florals. My heart is full of blood—sometimes crimson, sometimes blue—doing what it must.
I am putting on my leather jacket and handing my son a set of my keys. I am looking at my reflection and I am heading out the door. Our world is such a theater. Tonight, I am the young-feeling mother. Tonight, he is the questioning son.
Jacqueline Jones LaMon is the author of two collections, Last Seen, a Felix Pollak Poetry Prize selection, and Gravity, U.S.A., recipient of the Quercus Review Press Poetry Series Book Award; and the novel, In the Arms of One Who Loves Me. Her third poetry collection, What Water Knows, is forthcoming from Willow Books and will be released in 2016 as a part of their “Established Writers” series.
Ms. LaMon’s work has appeared in a wide variety of publications such as Prairie Schooner, Narrative Magazine, Ninth Letter, Mythium, Bellevue Literary Review, Callaloo, and Crab Orchard Review. Noted by the NAACP in the category of Outstanding Literary Work, Poetry, Ms. LaMon is the recipient of fellowships from the Kimbilio Writers’ Workshop and Retreat, the Yaddo Foundation, the Fine Arts Work Center, the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, and many others, including the Cave Canem Foundation, Inc. where she serves on the Board of Directors. A graduate of Mount Holyoke College and UCLA School of Law, Ms. LaMon earned her M.F.A. in Creative Writing, Poetry, from Indiana University Bloomington. She lives in Brooklyn, New York, and teaches in the multi-genre M.F.A. program at Adelphi University.