• Marías at Sampaguitas

Poetry by Karo Ska

an ode to other mothers


one night at bath time,

my mother tries scrubbing

the brown out of me, grating

a ridged sponge over & over

my skin, until

i'm crying & raw, flesh

still brown, but now

tinged pink. my nanny,

Renata,

stops her.


in private, Renata tucks me

in, she whispers, your mother

she's ... off ... sometimes, don't

mind her. for years,


Renata saved me, taking me

out to feed ducks

at the pond. a mother

is not a mother


because she gives birth. a mother

is birthed

when she sees

her child not as the smallest

matryoshka doll buried

deep inside, not

an exact tinier replica, not

someone to carve. a mother

is birthed

when she sees her child

as flesh, bone, skin,

& imperfectly perfect.




Karo Ska (she/they) is a South Asian & Eastern European non-binary femme, migrant poet, living on occupied Tongva Land (aka Los Angeles) with their black cat muse. Anti-capitalist & anti-authoritarian, they find joy where they can. Their first chapbook, "gathering grandmothers' bones" was released on February 29th, 2020. For updates, follow them on instagram @karoo_skaa or check out their website karoska.com.

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