Billie Kearns

The Breaking

I cannot speak the truth to my mother

I see her hands, they look just like mine
but her voice can break a room in half
can locate and crack each nerve on your heart.

The border between me and my mother
has been growing since I was fourteen.
I came
home one day and her tongue
was both more and less conservative.

I do not know what birthed 
this new tongue but it kept 
enough of its old face to still be
my mother.

If she looked for herself in the mirror
would she see me? Worse, if I look
for myself in the mirror
will I see her?

Over Mother’s Day lunch we hold stares
She says my girl you can be gay you can be Native 
you cannot belong to both communities.
Whose side are you on? Pick one. 


Billie Kearns (aka Billie the Kid) is a K’ai Taile Dené/Nehiyaw poet and storyteller. Born in Yellowknife, Northwest Territories, she currently resides in Kingston, Ontario, the traditional territory of the Haudenosaunee and Anishnaabe peoples. Billie holds a Bachelor of Applied Science in Electrical Engineering from Queen’s University and has performed at spoken word events across Turtle Island such as CUPSI and the Canadian Festival of Spoken Word. Billie is currently a director of the Voices of Today youth poetry festival. Her poetry breathes life into narratives as she explores relationships with family, friends, food, and the dynamic nature of dreams.