“My Mother’s Son” by Eri Okoye

Eri Okoye


I was 19 when I first started to look like my mother;
cupid’s bow forming flat above my lip and
tear filled eyes going over and over pages of numbers, 
looking for new ways to crunch.
I began to learn a new and adult way to become afraid.
I’d always known about money and the way that it kills,
from an early age I saw it slit my mother’s throat and drain her raw
and I’d always known that we were poor.
But growing up now, and almost grown too,
I was reminded again whilst doing things like renting homes;
I had always worked, always paid my own phone bill with extra to spare
so it became easy to forget the weight of debt.
Debt weighs as if you carry the universe upon your back—
my mother looks like Atlas and I have my mother’s eyes: 
wearisome and tired but brown and alive—
and I have the same worry lines
though I was just a child two years ago.
It goes that money can’t buy you happiness but I can’t agree,
because I am too young to be afraid of debt,
too young to be afraid of the green that does not grow on trees,
Yet debt weighs like feet trampling down roots,
it is like chemicals and acids poured upon the place 
where things grow;
I am far too young to feel this stunted
but at least I finally look like my mother.

from Rattle #76, Summer 2022


Eri Okoye: “I write poetry because turning things into metaphor and lyric is the only way I’m able to rationalize and make sense of my issues. I treat it like medicine.”

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