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How To Talk With Mom

by Hannah Baggott

God can’t make too many different kinds of people, she sighs—her own prolific way to
explain the characters we keep meeting over and over again. Ones that can’t hear
their own harsh tones. Ones that must always be right. Selfish ones. Predictable
ones. Now, I try to teach her about Myers-Briggs psychology, about what the
letters mean—that internal processor does not mean introvert. But she keeps saying
introvert, and I can’t bring myself to call her wrong. Today, I drop doppelganger like
water over the phone— she asks what it means, chews on the hard consonants,
her loud vowels full of pollen, humidity, and tequila. I tell her it means that this
town is full of doubles from home—that she’s right about God and human form.
For her, I run my words together: Playin’ tricks on me, I guess. Like you say, He must
have-a sense of humor. I don’t tell her about the etymology of doppelganger—the
German roots, or Norse mythology and all the ghosts. I don’t say the words
personification or omen or demon. Or Heautoscopy—hallucinations of seeing one’s
own body at a distance as a result of schizophrenia or epilepsy or brain tumors. I
don’t tell her about the dream that I know I’ll have later where she dies and I
can’t fly home.

Hannah Baggott is a Nashville native and is currently pursuing an MFA in poetry at Oregon State University, while teaching English Composition courses with a rhetorical focus on gender and media. Her work is deeply rooted in connection to and growth from Southern culture and language. She was recently awarded the 2015 Bellevue Literary Review Marcia and Jan Vilcek Prize for Poetry. Her work can be found or is forthcoming in Tupelo Quarterly, Belle Reve Literary Journal, Stockholm Review of Literature, Open Minds Quarterly, Contrary Magazine and other journals.

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