I kept trying to write a poem about my mother’s face,   

but I was using too many similes.


I kept comparing her face to the waning moon, the way

it loses symmetry, the way


our world diminishes it, eclipses it—from the edges in,

takes its wholeness away.


What I’m trying to say, though, is about my mother, not

the moon; how whenever I see her face


in that picture, wearing her new hat, one side of her face

banished inside the brim,


I see her fear, my own fear, staring back from the little

medallion it’s mounted on.


I think of how she posed there, unsmiling, alone, waiting

to see a ghost of herself,


a passive light looking back, the stricken eyes, the muscles

going dumb,


her pale skin austere, yet slack; the first signs just starting

to appear of what


doctors called a muscle freeze, a mask, but I thought was

the moon in a cloche hat.


Jeanne Wagner is the winner of several national awards, most recently the Arts & Letters Award, The Sow’s Ear Chapbook Prize and the Sow’s Ear prize for an individual poem. Her poems have appeared in Cincinnati Review, Alaska Quarterly Review, Shenandoah, Southern Review and Hayden’s Ferry. Her first book, The Zen Piano-mover won the Stevens Manuscript Prize, Her most recent book, In the Body of Our Lives, was released by Sixteen Rivers press in 2011.

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