Selfies at Age Sixty


My mother lives inside my skin

In the mirror, her smile cracks across my face, above

her chin,

soft jowls that started sagging at my

fifty-eighth year, but the only way I remember her chin,

the wrinkles that frame her lips under

my skin all disappear in the wide open smile

so I smile

and smile in

A world of selfies that Mom would have eschewed.


Why do you cover your mouth, your hand

across your smile? I ask her, studying her face in the mirror,

my own peering back, hers long buried.

I look so goofy, she says across the years, as she said

long ago. My mouth is

so big. A crater on my face when I laugh.

No! I cry. Your smile is beautiful, isn’t it? Is my smile goofy?

No, she insists from beyond the grave. Not yours. Only mine.

The same, I say.

She shakes her head, her hand

Across her mouth.


I know the day in high school I saw myself laughing in the mirror

And saw my mother’s face,

covered my mouth, that smile too big. I understood

and started putting my hand over my laughter,


A legacy.

I catch myself laughing,

My hand gone to

My mouth like

A tic.


But now,

But now,

I wear purple* and smile

And laugh,

Mouth wide open,

with Mom, move my hand

from my mouth

to my phone,

and all my selfies

are of both of us.


*”When I am an Old Woman, I Shall Wear Purple,” by Jenny Joseph

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