Until twenty three, my mother could beat me in arm wrestling, her bicep the size of a hamster, so puny, no more than a clump of hamburger meat sagging down the middle of her bone. Cackle and squeal she would upon each petty victory, cig smoke train-chuffing from her mouth and nose and ears. “Pussy,” she’d say. “Pussy,” and mean it.
All those years, I’d lift weights and drink protein shakes. I’d baby-bawl, I would, and say prayers, but nothing worked, not until I put that mirror in my mouth, glass the size of a doll’s compact. Palm-to-palm, our arms lanced like a mating eels, we followed a similar trajectory until I parted my jaws with the mirror on my tongue, played Mom a movie, a biography, of her beating me—head hand face arm chest leg groin–her fists blazing, nails ripping, working out her own black victory.