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Portrait of a Woman as a Calligrapher -- hybrid by Tara Tulshyan

  1. Try writing mother without the grip of a maobi between your thumbs, loosen the wrist until the ink spills into a pot of tea leaves. Seek the characters with interlocking arms, the woman who sounds like mama with the promise of a roof over your head.

  2. Try saying mother without your words, the ones she cannot pick apart or sculpt a line in between letters to read to herself before dinner and try to see if she still checks her pocketbook at night, the red vinyl bruised into bone-white, the cover page of which she only reads, kneading the words while shouting my name. Mother teaches me how to say hers. Look at how the characters unravel themselves into a standing person, three dians to resemble water, seeping into typhoons we used to bathe in.

  3. Sometimes, mother forgets to feed your brother and sometimes she can’t even remember your name. So you try naming after her your goldfish which your brother closes the hood of the fishtank on.


Tara Tulshyan is from the Philippines. Her works have appeared on or are forthcoming in DIALOGIST, Kitaab, Okay Donkey among several others. When she isn’t writing, she’s probably drinking matcha and reading newspapers."

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