Sometimes I choose titles before my pen reaches the paper;
today, this poem, this story, this limb severed from my heart
is half untitled because this is for me, for you
and the one in the mirror we’re so adamant isn’t us.
As if our reflections are portraits we have painstakingly sat for,
only to deny any likeness in the end.
I see my ancestors in graves (the ones with cold earth apologies
soggy in their throats) and gardens (the ones with peonies
and roses for hands, daisies in their laughter), and I tremble.
I begin to weed the garden and place frail dandelions,
wishes all spent, at tombstones.
Because they are not mine and they are not me.
They are the portraits slashed open with knives.
I imagine if you sliced me open, scalpel sunshine,
you would see how squishy I am; empathy in my toxicology –
a dust full of so many whispers my bones are heavy not hollow.
And perhaps if you held a mirror above my autopsy,
I would look more like my reflection than the portrait
I reproduce with oil-stained hands and hang
in every home I’ve ever tried to make & keep.
Poem: © Kristiana Reed 2020
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