Cubist Mother

When I found my mother throwing dishes at the mortar wall behind our house, she said only, “I forgot these once belonged to my mother.” In her hand was the pale blue dish, speckled like a bird’s egg. Once upon a time, I’d stamped my feet if anyone else ate from it. Watching my mother hurl that dish, I thought of that Duchamp painting, Nude Descending a Staircase, No. 2. The curves of the figure’s hips and buttocks, the metronomic swing of her legs and arms—all multiplied. Or is she disassembled? Shattered like a dish thrown against a wall.


Michelle Ross is the author of There’s So Much They Haven’t Told You (2017), which won the 2016 Moon City Press Short Fiction Award.

Photo Credit: Ken Douglas

6 Responses to “Cubist Mother”

  1. Kaci Skiles Laws says:

    This is so beautifully written!

  2. Jeff Stone says:

    A remarkably vertiginous story that will probably make me dream of Escher’s or some similar works as it reaffirms the power of language and experience…

    With far fewer words, it brings to mind what Updike did in The Coup by transposing two diametrically opposed circumstances through the odd nuances of memory and that space in the mind that can no longer be captivated in the present by the same experience but nonetheless relives it when certain stimuli trigger a palpable response. A scent, a familiar vista, a vaguely familiar feeling, an unexpected association… it is often a incredibly powerful and sometimes disconcerting element of the human condition.

  3. Jon Remington says:

    Good work!

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