Karine Hack Literature Poetry

our mothers

Karine Hack

Mashup of Ocean Vuong’s “homewrecker” & Michael Ondaatje’s “The Cinnamon Peeler”

when we swam once,
white dresses spilling from our feet / in water,
late August
our mothers / left with no trace

your father’s tantrum turned,
turning our hands dark red
as if wounded:
a wildfire we covered / in water

(what good is it:
two headless people building a burning house.)

& this is how
our mothers’ / bodies remained free:
white dresses spilling
in saffron / among strangers.

without the profession of
1/5 vodka & an afternoon in the attic
our mothers / blind of smell
touch other women—
the cinnamon peeler’s wife
the lime burner’s daughter
only to beg
the yellow bark dust,
the missing perfume—
the pleasure of a scar.

& this is how / our mothers’
lips touched the day closed
in the act of love:
a knife on the tongue turning
cinnamon / into a tongue,
without the profession of
rough brothers, / smoking tar.


Karine Hack is “such a capricorn.” She lives on the Sunshine Coast of B.C.