The Practice of Inheriting Fear

Nina Keen


A doll on a green coverlet. Peanut butter vomit on the bathroom floor. Please love me though you’ve never loved me. The daughter sits in bed on Christmas morning wondering when she will get to play with her toys. The mother hovers around her, turning away when she is sick and making light of the illness. The daughter will have no recollection of this moment years later when she is in her teens, but the mother will recall it again and again and laugh as she does so. Please love me though you cannot love me. Innocence is taken in this way – when the mother gives the daughter fear of illness, when she unloads it onto her, when she makes her a stranger of her own body and vomit. The daughter will fear throwing up for years; well, not really that, but the laughter of the mother. The laughter will ring in her ears longer than the putrid peanut butter will taste in her mouth. Please love me though you will not love me.



Nina Keen has a Master’s degree in English from Loyola Marymount University, LMU, and currently lives in Los Angeles. Her poem, “Aspartame,” has been published in LA Miscellany. In addition, she won Second Place in LMU’s Graduate Poetry Contest for her poem, “Coffin.”