Volume 1 Issue 32

Love is Spelled Backwards Because My Mama was no Saint
Riham Adly

“My mind is a cloud cut in half with a sword, the sword is a thought and the thought is a roll of moving pictures where my defeat and retreat, your unassembling and demolishing and all encumbering poetry that follows goes on repeat.”

I read the opening of my poem to the deck of cards that used to be hers.

“I so want to punish you and provoke you and tell you all the vile things that slither through my mind during those soul-sucking shock sessions. Oh mama, if only, you can taste the bitterness of my unforgiveness, if only, you can feel, mama. If only you ever had.”   

The Queen of Swords card falls in my lap.

“Mama doesn’t like my poetry. Mama doesn’t want her ashes in my urn next to the window.” I tell the void inside me or maybe the lady sitting on the cherubs’ throne with the sword in the card.  

Nurse Madeline knocks on my door again. She wants to keep my madness quiet.

“Evol, honey, is everything alright? Now girl, I don’t believe in them shock punishments, aye punishments, electric and all, but if you don’t keep it down, I’ll let them fry your brain. Dear, you don’t want me to call Warden Mark and bring the straps?”

Frying my brain. Frying my brain.

Nurse Madeline locks me inside, bolts slide into their sockets. The room shakes under my feet but it is really me who’s shaking, dancing, swaying. I curse the hair that gets into my eyes. Her damn cards fall and trickle one by one until The Fool card falls right next to its Queen.

“You think I’m a fool, mama? You think I trust like The Fool, with that rose in his hand and the sun in his wake? Oh mama, if only I can hold that sun in my grasp, closes my fist around its mouth before hurling it at the wall and watching it break into a thousand little smithereens of golden shrapnel.”

I hold the urn of her ashes and stand on tiptoe.

“Mama, remember when I stood in my own little pool of blood in the yard in front of your idols and drunken boyfriends? Remember the alphabet soup you so laboriously filled with L’s and O’s and S’s and E’s and R’s? Remember the night you doused my loaf of bread with vodka before setting it on fire? But what was your life but misspelled confusion, what is my name but love spelled backwards? ”

The sound of its smashing becomes manic static that transforms into my mosaic of pain.  

“Let’s forge a bond with what was in reserve and what should have not.”

My heart is a cup filled with your lost sea, my arms a wand that fails to bring forth your absent wishes.You were never a demon and I am no saint. MAMA and EVOL should have always been the AM AM of a heartbeat singing LOVE.


RIHAM ADLY is a mother, ex-dentist, and is now transitioning towards becoming a full-time fiction writer/ blogger. She is also a first reader in Vestal Review Magazine and has worked as a volunteer editor in 101 Words magazine. Her fiction has appeared in journals such Bending Genres, Connotation Press, Spelk, and The Cabinet of Heed, and Vestal Review, among others. Her short story “The Darker Side of the Moon” won the Makan Award contest in 2013, and she was recently short-listed in the Arablit Translation Prize.

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