Photo of my Mother as a Girl

I never recognized her except in fragments –
the thin line of black that made her smile
(the thin black line between her two front teeth),
the caught look of her stance kneeling
but rising in the grass beneath a new tree,
the reach of her arms,
long and thin and bent before her
like thin, bent wires
ready to spring.
But she is all in pieces there,
torn bits of known mingled
with the foreign, the historic, the before
me.

It is as if she doesn’t know me,
her stomach long and thin and pale white,
my father absent,
the sun freckling her face through unpruned branches
of a young tree.

Sarah Newman

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