We are not generic offspring, she says. Genetic? I ask. Generic, she says. We are not real to them.
Mom says: Nana wasn’t a fishmonger but loved to fish, combed her hair with a man’s comb, biceps flexed. She had a fishing boat named ‘Fish’ that she loved to scrub on her knees when the sunset. She hated fish. She wasn’t Ellen Nielsen but she hid saboteurs underground, dug holes for small children to hide in, including her own. He was the kind boy who nana would often refer to as z because she couldn’t remember his name in the end.
Mom says nana participated in the illegal transportation of families, not fish, to Sweden on her boat named ‘Fish’. It was fucking hard work, she says, keeping an eye on the window decked out in full mom-gone-drag. Mom waits for her date as the evening switches on. She uses the word fucking often to define his tardiness, he being the ZZ Top look alike from Saskatchewan who looks like Sasquatch—all hairy and beard full of breadcrumbs. That fucking son of a bitch, she swears. I wonder what her mother would think of her now all dressed up in nana’s Carolina mined jewels.
Near the end, she says, I was a prostitute once just like nana. I busted my balls to give you bread. Nana gave head during the war to save hers.
Ancestors: They’re ancestors, but they’re not ancestors, generic nor genetic. They don’t whisper into my ears or shake me below my genes. They don’t look like us and most have teeth and Aryan features. Mom isn’t a stingy woman but she likes to keep this foreign photo album under her bed beneath a box of unopened Godiva chocolates. When mom has sex she thinks about the sex lives of Danes, of nana, and the Abominable Snowman. Mom never eats chocolate in bed unless she is on a date. At least that is what she tells me.
What of the archangel, I ask, curious about the vespers held for him in the past and the manifold cutouts of the boy nana always kept beneath her bed. We are not privy to the politics of the dead, she replies. Nana was a zoologist to the end, a strident symbolist at best.
I don’t understand.
That’s fine, she says. Light my cigarette.
Mom is a liar, incapable of telling a linear story in 2-space or 3. So am I. She is incapable of preserving fragile things, like porcelain or men, or men made of porcelain feathers, like fathers. Father was the moth to her death star. He would complain when the sun rose before she got home.
Nana loved fried chicken, she says, as she soaks her feet in linseed oil because she just doesn’t know any better.
Tomorrow, she says, I’ll fry some wings.