Portraits

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Portraits
by Mark Irwin

Mother came to visit today. We
hadn’t seen each other in years. Why didn’t
you call? I asked. Your windows are filthy, she said. I know,
I know. It’s from the dust and rain. She stood outside.
I stood in, and we cleaned each one that way, staring into each other’s eyes,
rubbing the white towel over our faces, rubbing
away hours, years. This is what it was like
when you were inside me, she said. What? I asked,
though I understood. Afterwards, indoors, she smelled like snow
melting. Holding hands we stood by the picture window,
gazing into the December sun, watching the pines in flame.

1 thought on “Portraits

  1. A remarkable image of mother and son cleaning the son’s dirty windows outdoors and indoors respectively, “rubbing away hours, years” until their portraits come clear, “staring into each other’s eyes.” It evokes so much about generations growing apart and then growing together. The last two images–of “snow melting” and “pines in flame”–powerfully communicate that change of state between the two figures framed “holding hands…by the picture window.”

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