This collection of photos and poetry are dedicated to my mother, whom I lost May 10, 2014 to a long and arduous battle against ovarian cancer.
My mother was diagnosed with Stage 3 ovarian cancer at City of Hope in Los Angeles after being treated with what we thought were ovarian cysts. She woke up from surgery with multiple lines hanging from her body, as well as a colostomy bag. I saw a small fraction of her die when she woke up to hear that she was going to be bound to wearing a bag on her stomach, and treated with intensive chemotherapy in order to survive. She struggled with her body image since her initial diagnosis, but never let the fear of dying keep her from fighting for her life. I can honestly say that I never saw a moment where she gave into the disease. Her tremendous will to live made it easy for both myself, and my family to forget what she was up against.
Throughout her illness I created so much. I wrote poetry everyday, I painted, collaged, hell, I even started making my own clothes. Towards the end, she slept a lot because of the insane amount of medication she had to take to feel somewhat comfortable. I spent most of my time tending to her, sleeping with her, and making art inspired by her. The only medium I didn't use was photography. My mother absolutely did not want to be photographed when she was feeling sickly, which was unfortunately most of the time. I am immensely grateful for the photos I have of her on her good days. Being a photographer, I repurposed my vision into mixed forms of expression. Witnessing her unwavering will to live redefined my lifes purpose. I can't say I've reached peace or acceptance, but I can say that I will forever live in her image.
This collection is an ongoing project that will more than likely never be completed. Creating art is how I feel closer to her, and I hope that others who have been affected by a life-threatening disease can also heal through my work. So far, everything I have finished was made in the darkroom. I implemented the use of photograms to represent the many walks through nature we'd take together. Thank you for viewing.
Siempre Contigo Mama.
2 / 8
I was born on a sweltering day in a desert city.
A silent landscape, unintelligible, like the sky holding its breath.
I am the fruit of young love, found under the shade of a palm tree.
My father melted into my mother, and rain drug the clouds across the horizon.
If my mother was a mountain, my father was a mountaineer, galvanized by earths rotation.
But soon they snapped like elastic on a baby, the marks of untimely decisions.
“Her name is Amarah Eden Hernandez”
For the first few years of my life, Spanish was my cardinal language.
My great-grandmother would press my hand into her chest as if it were saving her life.
My mother knew no Spanish, so she spoke to me in gazes and smiles.
Her eyes were as boundless as the depths of the ocean, a lighthouse for those lost at sea.
Like a needle trailing the grooves of a spinning record, I’ve adhered to the inclinations of my mother.
3 / 8
Dreams of my mother dancing barefoot on melting ice
She falls through the cracks, the water too shallow to drown her.
Life spills into her toes, symmetry in her organs, with every breath she exhales zest
Grapefruits lining up for liquidation, a subtle sacrifice for forbidden fruit.
Long tangled hair not yet ready to be broken, whooping at the flavor of the air. t
There’s a break in the clouds and the sun is shining on her face, the patterns of orbits in the universe adamant for her eminence.
She dies in fraction, her flesh too human to persevere.
Her purpose too perpetual for earth.
She choreographs my words to the rhythm of her lips, and my actions follow closely.
4 / 8
Moonshine eyes from a long slumber.
So damn lyrical.
Backpack strapped and snapped,
intuition still intact.
Respect for untamed inconvenient adventures.
Like roads on a map,
Windows down, sound blaring
There you go,
appearing in my dreams again
knocking at my door with flowers
smiling straight at me,
Dutifully dripping in simplicity.
I miss that.
Hey, I miss you
and the way you would scatter the clouds,
acres of sand with so many stars to count.
Some sky scrapping freedom you’ve acquired,
if i might say so myself.
Ma, I’m okay.
Like mimosas at brunch,
Like home-made tie dye socks,
Cause all that matters is that I knew you.
Finish your sentences, know you.
Blood type A positive, know you.
Poached eggs sewing threads
like pulling needles through my head,
it hurts to remember
cause I knew you,
the true view.
Manually adjusted exposure,
a light too bright too see.
Three week loaf of bread, expired.
Ma, I gotta lay these river rocks down
I’ve been carrying them for miles.
Knots, cramps, spasms, miles.
I’m ready to be okay,
and even if i fall off stage,
hit the floor,
and bleed a tower of tears…
ahh sweet music.
My mania is no longer suggestive.
5 / 8
Remember the day you woke me up before the sun had laid bare in the sky, and told me we were “going on a spontaneous trip.” No ultimate destination, no time that mattered, and we hit the road. We drove through the vast and desolate desert with nothing but good music and each other. It was at that moment I realized I was born under a lucky star to have her as my mother.
6 / 8
"If I had a flower for everything I thought about you, I could walk in my garden forever."
-Alfred Lord Tennyson
7 / 8
"I paint flowers so they will not die."
8 / 8
Doctors squint at the sight of her setting,
an egoless eyeful barefooted and nude.
Sometimes resting her eyes on yours,
the small immensities of her bleak stares
dutifully discarding your prognosis.
Like charred logs embossing the soil,
eyelids flickering from the suddenness of fire.
They seemed so useless,
dud batteries not turning the lights on,
but rather putting them into eternal rest.
My shoulders were screaming like the mind of boiled tea,
why the fuck cant they fix her?
It irks my bones to reason with fate,
the scraps of my thoughts a meager meal of reason.
This collection of photos and poetry are dedicated to my mother, whom I lost May 10, 2014 to a long and arduous battle against ovarian cancer. My mother was diagnosed with Stage 3 ovarian cancer at City of Hope in Los Angeles after being treated with what we thought were ovarian cysts. She wok...