My jaws popped
and I thought: she's broken my jaw,
my mother's broken my jaw,
I can't go to school anymore because my jaw is hanging like a broken door.

They'll come in upon me like a pack of hyenas.

That night--unbearably bright because of the moon--was a nuit blanc, a white night. I was thirsty and got out of bed to get a drink of water.
The water was too cold,
I couldn't stomach it and my mother woke to the sound of my vomiting.
I was hairless and white beneath the lamp.
She took me by the shoulders and shook me hard,
slapping my back; now she was terrified that I had choked on something.

Growing old was becoming difficult.
My innards clutched, I bent over, twisting in grip of her nails, and vomited on her dress, on her hand, on her ring.

I wanted to spit her out of me.
Instead, I had dry heaves for the rest of the night.
But something else happened as well:
I realized that her hands were no longer gripping my shoulder.

So, although I was exhausted and wrung out, I felt relieved
as if I had unburdened myself of something disagreeable quite early on.
I account myself lucky in this respect.

The next morning, we went to the hospital: I insisted: I could hardly open or shut my mouth.
At the hospital, she stood close to me, telling the nurses I had fallen from my bicycle,
pinching my shoulder between her index and thumb to warn me,
looking at me, smiling nervously at me.
Then she took her hand off my shoulder, to pull back a stray hair.

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