An appleMy mother teaches me.

She teaches me that I will not trip
if I watch where I am going.
Not even over an outstretched leg.

She teaches me that I will not suffer
if only I am forward-thinking enough,
if only I am clever enough,
if only I have enough self-control,
enough caution,
enough patience,
enough resilience,
enough determination,
if only I am wise and prudent enough,
if only my judgement and discretion suffice.

She teaches me that a woman who is without flaws
can walk between the cracks,
not touching the cracks,
escaping unharmed, unscathed.

This is her gift.
Her lesson.

Stay away from the cracks.
Be good, be patient, be wise, be careful.
Stay away from the cracks.
Heed warnings, pay attention, stay safe.

There is a corollory to this lesson.

If you fall down the cracks
you were not good, patient, wise, careful –
you did not heed.

If you trip
it is only because you did not watch where you were going.

If you suffer
it is only because you want for
planning, cleverness, self-control
caution, patience, resilience, determination,
wisdom, prudence, judgement, discretion.

If you fall down the cracks
you are flawed.


But whose leg is that anyway,
stretched across my path?

Didn’t my mother notice him?
Or his flaws?

Oh, Eve!
Did they bind your sight?

Eve – your daughters taught their daughters.
Their daughters taught
and taught
and taught.

They taught my mother.
And my mother taught me.

And all for an apple.
Or so they say.
They didn’t tell us –
that apple was poisoned.

Paula Rego, Swallows the Poisoned Apple

[Image: Paula Rego: “Swallows a Poisoned Apple”]
[Paula Rego, by the way, completely rocks. Gallery here, and also here.]