Changing Faces

What is that face in the looking glass?
It’s familiar, I know, but more like you
Than what I remember from before.
The cheekbones, the coloring, yes…
But more than that.

Same biting lower lip and committed eyes,
Dark and deep in their intensity,
Still somehow inviting in their glow, their years.

Do you see it these days when you look at me?
A miniature you?  Somehow more like you
Than the face returned in your mirror with its lines and layers,
Becoming you as you become more of you?

But there’s a trustworthy knowledge in your eyes
That I haven’t grown up and into
Like there was in your mother’s, I’m sure
On her death bed did it pass to you?
Should your life be the sacrifice for wisdom gained
I would wish myself always an imprudent fool.

Or did it begin when your brother ended,
The apple of your eye plucked before ripening in the face of
Alleged invincibility of youth and medical prowess?

Where did you study the love you embody?
A countenance I have not yet learned,
In endless nights on your knees,
At the cost of your own peace
Or perhaps the cause of it.

A place I’ll never know ‘til I am on my knees weeping for you?
With a face lined and layered, aged and ancient
That looks less like what I remembered
And more like the yearling, she barely breathing
That I birthed two decades before?

written in 2004 for my mother… and for me

In April, I’m posting a poem a day in support of National Poetry Month. This poem is a tough one to read, now nearly twenty years later, because it assumed I would be a mother with a daughter of my own, that this mother-daughter relationship would naturally be cyclical across the centuries. Maybe it could be true in another twenty years, who knows?

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