13 November 2009


First, she's twenty-three, with a coy expression I recognize in myself. Then, she's twenty-six, and the bass player is lighting her cigarette in black and white, a coffee stain in the corner. That half grin is solid, knowing, and I'm stricken by how much she resembles my mother at that age, all fresh and dangerous, a dab of color on each eye. Flip the page and she's thirty-four with shoulder pads, pointy breasts, another few pages, and she's forty-something, a wig for a crown, at a tea party with mis-matched dishes and deviled eggs. And I wonder where the first expression went, that coyness exchanged for wisdom, for heartache, a whisper instead of a yell. That half grin is still solid and knowing. I never knew her, and yet her finger prints smudge the corners of my visit, and somehow, she's permanent, a tenant in a memory revisited, casually observed, mourned by an outsider.

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