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White noise

Listen to this piece | Narrated by Clare Yow (03:24)
They shape
Their shape
I am inundated by reminders of my mother, father, grandmothers
notions of inheritance and freedom on ends of a spectrum –
the constant draws,
which traits to emulate
	unknot		free myself from.

Care and knowledge, standards so wildly,
scarcely
aspirational unattainable capitalist ableist

no rest, no stasis, no weakness
they murmur.

i revolt, only to be heaved back
again again
	each fingerbreath of disruption forward, though,
	a small triumph.

Two spins around the sun and counting
of our nuclear family nightmare

ni hao

a stranger says to my toddler (at the same site of racial violence against a yeh yeh)
we’ve been like oil and water – 
	a threatening slick		spreadingcoatingclogging
the see-saw of making and mothering

i give what i can
you take what you need

wanting relief
bitter speech
everyday joys
eggshells everywhere.

___

I see this in a book and tap it into a note:

Protest and despair, a baby’s only defense

this has been my world-
contending 
with memory like a colander
an unruly tongue
the tiniest things magnified
   burdeningburningbursting

My grey matter, they say, is transformed for at least two years after pregnancy
(i’m regressing, he insists,
wailing at every turn)

It’s been nearly three.

I am taught the phrase “How quickly can I catch myself?”
“How fast can I return to her?”

an unrecognizable mother partner woman 
sprawled across fault lines

      i am alarmingly slow and hasty

Amidst crises, the birds are still singing.
Seeds are germinating in darkness.
And we belong
  only to ourselves.

The stranger (ww) who needlessly told me in early parenthood that a baby is a bomb in a marriage was wrong.

There have been many implosions
the baby—not a bomb—
but just a baby

His name,
本
meaning a root or stem of a plant; the foundation, basis, origin

He coaxes us daily 	
to rest
to resist
divest from all the harmful ways our marrow and models keep us striving for fruitless trees

coaxes,
for his sake.

And I can only keep talking about the conditions in which I am caregiving and creating
countering how society makes these roles diminished and devalued,
	invisible.

___

A friend sent me a proverb with a nice cadence, he said -

關關難過關關過
gwaan1 gwaan1 naan4 gwo3, gwaan1 gwaan1 gwo3
every challenge is difficult to overcome, yet every difficulty is overcome

We come up for air once more
     finally briefly gasping grasping
yearning for nothing less than that

White noise is a series of conceptual photographic diptychs and writing—also presented as a self-narrated audio piece—that reflect on the consequences of two plus years of early parenthood, familial strain, and pandemic living. Yow’s practice, since 2019, has focused the labour of caregiving and art-making, aiming to dissolve any separation between the two. As a feminist mother of colour, this work continues her need to always honour daily lived experience in the spirit of traditional feminist consciousness-raising circles.

Medium:24 in x 12 in photo diptychs, writing, self-narrated audioYear:2022Current Exhibitions:Shifting Articulations of Asian-ness in Contemporary Canada, online, 2022Share: