Photograph of My Mother, Age 8, in 1909

She’s borrowed someone’s hat

or someone’s tied it on—

its brim and ostrich feathers

construct an aureole around her face.

I guess the grown-ups meant

to blend a belle epoque sirène

with someone small and vulnerable:

oh dear. She almost manages to smile.

Across a hundred years

my mother looks at me,

not knowing who she’ll be, or who I am.

The picture lives perpetually before.

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