I have an image of my mother standing in front of our kitchen sink while I am outside playing. All I can see is mom’s torso, her arms, hands, and face. Maybe this is a moment engrained in my mind, maybe several images collaged together, I don’t know. Lately though, I can’t help but see my sister in that same window. The way Paige must see her from the back porch when she sits on the swing. I imagine we all have one image of our mothers, the way we will always think of them or remember them. This is mine.
The woman at the window, the one with tired eyes, the one with the bright smile, the one with dry, comforting hands; hands with maps of life on the backs of them. Raised, blue roads tracing along their landscapes.
The woman at the window, the woman who watches when you’re not seeing, hears when you’re not listening; the woman at the window can say what you’re not saying.
She is your straight, sophisticated posture. She is your slight scoliosis. The woman at the window is your combed, slick hair, your straight, white teeth. She is your crooked canine, the one that shows when you laugh.
The woman at the window is your generosity. She is your humor. The woman at the window is your prejudice, your disgust. She is your ignorance.
The woman at the window with her hair pulled back, with her hair undone, with her hair just so; she is your beauty, your grace, your vanity. She is the crease in your slacks. She is the scuff on your shoe.
The woman at the window is your anxiety. She is your chewed nails. She is your nuisance. She is your burden. The woman at the window is the deep breath, the long exhale.
The woman at the window is your favorite book by your favorite author. She is the line you highlighted on page 16. She is the word you cannot pronounce.
The woman at the window, the one laughing at your mistake, a mistake she made.
The woman at the window, who gave you the recipe to her favorite meal, the meal she will not eat, the meal you will not eat.
She is the smell of your pillowcase, the scent of your sweaters, the stench of your sweat.
The woman at the window is your lifeline, your last call. She is the five missed voicemails on your cell phone.
The woman at the window saw what you didn’t. She showed up when you were alone. She scooped you up. She growled the dog. She cleaned the cut. She was right there.
That whole time she was there at the window.