On a road trip to New Orleans,
my sister pointed out the vines engulfing the forest on either side of our car.
Do you see that? she asked.
Underneath all that kudzu, there were once trees.
What kudzu does,
is that it grows so completely around the native wildlife, that when the tree dies,
the kudzu leaves a perfect silhouette.
Oh, I responded.
And in the way that we always do on road trips, a silence ensued.
That silence took on more meaning, more depth
with time and miles travelled.
When we lost our mom,
it was in the gentle way that
kudzu slowly strangles an unsuspecting tree,
with the silent ferocity of complete breathlessness.
One day we looked away from a woman we recognized
and when we looked back, all that was left were vines
and the vague sense of sorrow
at seeing someone in the place of our mother, who is still yet not her.
And on and on we lived, looking around at the forest,
the forest that was once our home,
till leaves covered our eyes
and vines crept down our throats.
Some of us moved,
shedding debris as we went,
struggling to escape our last remaining constraints.
Some of us stayed behind with her,
at the center of our forest.
Some of us stayed behind,
gaze cast upon the woman we all lost long, long ago.
And sometimes I wish, still, that I could go back and hack my way back in.
Sometimes I wish that, deep, deep in the darkness,
I could find the mom I never truly had
saying hello, I’m here, I love you.