Mother, Safety and Uncertainty


by Sara Eisenberg, Class of 1999

Language is on my face, Mother is un-lettered,

I, an apple fallen close to her trunk, just beneath her tree,

Flat, looking up at her, a moon circling in a distant galaxy….


As the “safety” I was able to craft out my family life began to fray, I found myself continuing to ask the same Motive Questions I had been asking for years, and they continued to pull me forward.

Why can’t I make contact? For decades I have pressed my nose up against the plate glass of life, while everything Vital and Real played out on the other side. In technicolor, everyone in action, everything unfolding tantalizingly, safely, out of reach. So crowded, so noisy over there in the mainstream of things.


Why can’t I manifest...fill in the blank? I am disappointed with life, over and over and over again, watching as everyone else gets their goodies. I shake my fist (at God?): when do I get mine? I receive neither nourishment nor enjoyment from the fruits of my efforts. A paycheck appears like magic, disconnected from hours of work both pleasurable and agonizing. How come I am so articulate, a consummate spokesperson for this one and that one, and go hoarse, tongue-tied, silent on behalf of my own needs, passions?

But put me in front of a microphone, a crowd, give me a righteous cause and I am good to go.

When is the other shoe going to drop, annihilate and free me?

I cannot reconcile this question with my experience of Life as magical, where I “fall into” rabbit-holes, jobs, relationships with teachers, windfalls. A potion bottle or a key to a door always appears, as it does for Alice in Wonderland. Everything turns out far beyond “ok” - still I cannot shake a sense of impending doom, justice that will be delivered to me for something undone or mis-done. I even wrack my heart and brain for years over my sketchy memories of early life, assuming that there is something dark and putrefying that will come to light one day to scare the shit out of me anew.

Over decades I had taken Rilke’s words to heart as much as I was able: to have patience with everything unresolved in my heart to try to love the questions themselves But I had not - as Rilke also advised, given up searching for answers, so continued to look for clues, patterns, whispers of a world responding, signaling, convinced there was a code - astrology, kabbalah, prayer, biochemistry - I could break open. Some higher law that could replace my own invention.

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