Nancy Marks – Printmarks of Our Family’s Journey

I adopted my daughter T. when she was six years old and I was thirty-eight. Her mother had been a client of mine at an AIDS service organization and, as her death approached, asked me if I would take T. when she died. Because of the instantaneous connection with T., becoming her mom is the closest evidence I have of Kismet… and to the real possibility that there might be a god.

"Finding Home: Anna and Me" by Nancy Marks
“T. and Me” by Nancy Marks

When T. turned fifteen, something snapped and she became rageful and depressed. She began to use drugs and harm herself. As the years went on and I endeavored to keep her safe, life for us became more painful, complicated and dangerous. T. experimented living as her first mom did – fast and hard. As she sought the streets, I sought to contain her. My search for help took me far and wide, as I tried to keep T. alive.

"Push/Pull" by Nancy Marks
“Push/Pull” by Nancy Marks

As T. went in and out of treatment facilities, as an artist, I turned to my printmaking for a place to rest, rage and release. When I stood back after two years, I discovered a body of over twenty monoprints that told a conscious/unconscious story: mother to daughter as large “O” and small “o”: forms searching, opposing, and connecting. Forces, both internal and external, caused our tenuous connection to fragment and almost break.

"T. in Treatment" by Nancy Marks
“T. in Treatment” by Nancy Marks

T. and I went through extraordinarily challenges because of, and in spite of, our deep bond. In the end, each of us sought to find a way back to herself and to the other.

"Mother's Day" by Nancy Marks
“Mother’s Day” by Nancy Marks

Mother’s Day

Tonight is mother’s day
for me.

I lose count of
the nights
the years
the lifetimes
I rushed into
your half-lit room
to tell you
it’s ok
and rock you back to sleep.

I remember
the waning moon
as it followed me
from house
to hospital
and back again.
And again.

This would be too
complicated a poem
if I tried to tell the story
of the night
your mom passed on,
and passed you
to me.

Her shaking hands, round
the white styrofoam cup of
orange crush
as if it were her
And it was.

Later, I leaned heavy against
the wooden door
and watched you
just to make sure.

Nancy Marks,



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