Mallory Gunther

Undressing My Mother, My Mother Undressing Me

was hilarious, was uncomfortable.

She had one too many martinis, we sat in the ER triage room or maybe three too many for two hours tequila shots- as I vomited into a tiny green bag.

Using my thumb and middle finger I try to change into a hospital gown; I remove the contacts from her eyes, I can barely lift my arms past my chest, my eyes, the bugged green eyes we share before I need to vomit again. I strip her outer garments, I look at my mother for help, pause at her bra and underwear, like I’m four again, and playing dress up until I remove those too take off your thrift store princess dress.

In the middle of the floor, she sits, she strips me, silently, swaying and unable to help herself. I’m not four, I’m twenty-two. I try not to peer at her breasts, she hasn’t seen my naked body, but I can’t help taking a quick look. it’s been twelve years, things have changed. She’s always telling me never go braless, I know she sees the tattoo on my hip, it’s disgusting, your breasts are bound to sag, but what about my stretch marks? She’s never at peace with her own body. I have angry, red scratches down my stomach. Am I looking at my future? I say nothing. She says nothing. Silky stretch marks haunt her belly; I know she looks at my breasts. I trace the faded one that raised me. Can she tell my nipples were pierced? I was the first to open that wound. I can feel the disappointment. I change her into an old college t-shirt. She pulls my hospital gown over my shoulders. In her 20’s she never asked for help. I wonder how many have worn this before me. I leave a bucket on her nightstand so she can vomit. She slips it back around just in time for me to retch.

Mallory Gunther embraces the exploration of tenacity and tenderness, experimenting in non-linear narratives with multiple perspectives. She would like to sincerely apologize to her mother.

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