Cover Photo: Ma Dear, the author’s grandmother
Ma Dear, the author’s grandmother

Mama

When I hear the word “mama,” the ache in my chest belongs to my grandma.

Her babies.hers

My mother would resurface as much as she could between visits to rehab and prison. Whenever she returned and she and Ma Dear were on pleasant terms, she would make her way to us, kept abreast of our developments by letters my sisters wrote her. She would know of my academic achievements, what movies we loved, how often my younger sister and I fought. She would try to carve out a her-shaped space in our lives. But for me, her inconsistency made her a dangerous thing to love. She would show up after absences great and small, full of smiles and kisses and belated happy birthdays, but no explanation or acknowledgement of her disappearance in the first place. I could feel something in my mother, a thing that lives there still, which forbade her children from questioning her, which sees the need to query her at all as proof of some disloyalty or ugly vitriol. She feels that her love, ferocious and constant even when her presence was not, should be enough. And she demands reciprocity.

All My Children

Mama

I’ve been there for you before. I cared for you when you weren’t okay. I can tell you aren’t okay again, and I’m here. Again.

Mamaare

Mama,


Jasmine Sanders is a writer and alchemist from the south side of Chicago. She loves Southern witchcraft, cooking and talking about her grandmother. Jasmine is currently writing Midwestern ghost stories and serving as a conduit to relay her foremothers‘ experiences of trauma and loss.