I see my grandmother’s soft belly, warm and comfortable like a living pillow. I see her thick, strong legs, hardened to oaken knots by a dozen miles walked each day between the clothesline, the kitchen, the pantry, the garden, the sewing machine.
I see my mother’s supple arms, smelling like home and squeezing tight to show love. I see her feet, sure and straight.
I see my father’s hair, so dark it’s nearly black.
I see my grandmother’s lips, berry-pink, with a twist that seems halfway between haughty scorn and delighted laughter.
I see my grandfather’s nose, round and straight and tanned from the summer sun.
I see my children’s skin, sprinkled with little brown freckles like the punctuation marks of a poet.
I see my brother’s chin, scarred and healed, healed and scarred again, full of hurt and balm and lessons learned many times but still forgotten.
I see my great-grandmothers’ hands, nimble and dexterous in their work, stiff and sore after too much of it.
I see my great-grandfather’s ears, delicate, perfect, a little too fussy for the rest of the face.
I see my ancestors’ blood, carried laboriously over seas and through mountain passes to nourish the tiny ball of nothing that would become me.
When I look in the mirror, I can’t see myself.
It’s like locking eyes with a stranger, at once too intimate and thrillingly alien.
If a stranger could be the sum of my heritage multiplied by my experiences and divided by my physiology.
If a stranger could have the breasts that nourish my babies, and the eyes I remember from my childhood, and the posture of my sassy teenage years, and the nascent tracery of my age.
Reflections are crowded.