The Mirror
by LeeAnn Pickrell

Boys dipped
my mother's hair in ink wells.
She wore it long then,

in two braids of copper-blond.
Those same boys' sons
called me "Pickle."

When my red black death
smeared itself across
white panties, she said,

I was the same age as you--
the unspoken threat I fought,
my breasts straining

the cotton lace of my
blue training bra.
I try to imagine my mother

at thirteen, living in Homestead,
dungarees rolled to reveal
pale calves,

blouse knotted at the waist,
exposing a half-inch
of never sunburnt flesh.

The sailors whistled
when they walked past our fence.
I try to imagine her then

but see only myself at that age,
mowing the front lawn in my
bikini. Like her, I discover

wads of tissue in all
my coat pockets. I own
her breasts,

the shuffle of her feet,
that unsteady need to please, all her
silent screams.

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