Mortifications of the Flesh
after Colm Toíbín
Every mother has a crown of thorns.
Here is mine: my things of which I am ashamed.
I could not teach him to admire his father.
I could not keep him from arguing with his elders.
As he got older, he adopted a fake posh accent.
I did not like his friends, or understand them.
I could not bear to hear them laughing after midnight.
I could never make him wear his hair neatly.
There are a few more.
Like how I feared for my own life.
Like how I turned my face from him.
Even more, like when seeing his suffering
the soldiers paused, how I snapped.
“If you’re going to do it, do it,” I said.
“For the love of God. Here, you dropped a nail.”
*First published in Prole.
Jennifer A. McGowan obtained her PhD from the University of Wales. Despite being certified as disabled at age 16, she has published poetry and prose in many magazines and anthologies on both sides of the Atlantic, including The Rialto and The Connecticut Review. Her chapbooks are available from Finishing Line Press, and her first collection was published in June 2015 by Indigo Dreams Publishing. Her website can be found at http://www.jenniferamcgowan.com .