(M)other by Sanita Fejzić
2018 CBC Poetry Prize shortlist
Sanita Fejzić made the 2018 CBC Poetry Prize shortlist for (M)other.
You can read (M)other below.
You were born past midnight
after the alarm bell cut the night in two
at 10.3 pounds
our big gift.
The doctor, a man whose head resembles the colour of a blank sheet of paper
wearing brand name Hunter boots of the same frosted blush
lifted you up as if with holy hands, in prayer,
"Born on Christmas day and he hath no father."
His words, spoken in a fake British accent betrayed an old mentality.
On your birth certificate my name fills the space of "father/other parent."
I am your other mother, your (m)other, but there was only room for one on the page.
In kindergarten at the Waldorf school
where the Prime Minister's children go to learn
two older boys zoomed across the hallway like arrows
"Haha—t'as pas de papa!"
Their words hit me in the chest: ha! ha! pa! pa! pa!
They darted by pa! papa!
When I asked the teacher to talk to them she said, "They're just children."
So are you, my son.
A year later, the principal of your new school suggested
I put you in karate
so you could have a "proper father figure"
I try not to get tired of explaining.
No: there is no father.
It's not that hard.
You only have mothers.
Anonymous sperm donor, yes.
No: no: no: my brother is absolutely not like your father. He is your uncle.
Just like how other people's uncles are not their fathers. (Do I really need to explain this?)
At night, we compare beauty marks in the mirror
our bodies punctuated by little islands of beautiful singularities
we find one in common on our chin—this random physical trait that unites us, mother & child.
And even though you don't have my genes or DNA
my sun you have all my love dedication delicate attention
always & always into infinity
and even though
on your birth certificate my name fills the space of "father/other parent"
I am your other mother, your (m)other
the one that's learning to be light
to laugh when others look for a father
like that time I made you giggle at Toys R Us
holding up a mask of Padmé Amidala to my face
exhaling in a deeply performative tone:
"I Am Your (M)other."
Read the other finalists
- Canadian Immigration Services Citizenship Exam by Neil Griffin
- Arrhythmia by Natalie Lim
- Phone Sex with a One Time Lover on the West Coast by Julie Mannell
- The Autobiography of Water by Bola Opaleke
About Sanita Fejzić
Sanita Fejzić is an award-winning poet, writer and playwright based in Ottawa. Her novella, Psychomachia, Latin for "battle of the soul," was shortlisted for the Ken Klonsky Award and the ReLit Award. Her first play, The Blissful State of Surrender, a dramatic comedy about a Bosnian-Canadian family was workshopped by the National Arts Centre in March 2018. Miro la girafe, her first children's story, is forthcoming in 2018. Fejzić is currently completing a PhD in cultural studies at Queen's University. Her second anthology, Dis(s)ent, was launched at the Ottawa International Writers Festival.