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This morning I was told we should look in the mirror and see the best self we can be.

In the middle of the night when I wake up to pee and I look in the mirror while I’m washing my hands

I am pretty sure Benicio del Toro smirks back at me.

In the morning when we’ve all overslept

which is so frequently that getting up on time feels miraculous

and I put on a baseball hat because I don’t have time to shower before I drive Zoe to school

I look in the mirror and see

Michael Moore looking disheveled but not too disheveled to ask pointed questions.

When we’ve been walking through the rain on the way to dinner downtown. I duck into the bathroom in the restaurant and see

Richard Simmons in my hair, without the tank top.

When the air is dry or I’ve combed out my wet hair after a late night soccer game, I wake up to Barry Gibb stayin’ alive in my mirror.

Why this odd assortment of male celebrities inhabits my crusty-eyed, rumpled reflections, I do not know.

Is my best self hidden among them? Best if I cultivate my authentic self away from mirrors, looking instead to another face.

Our friend Marie Sinclair died last week at the age of 94. Marie lived a few houses down from the house my family lived in when we first moved to Virginia from California, when I was a toddler. When I was a kid, she was like a surrogate grandmother. This is for her.

Curled up in the corner
behind Marie’s recliner
oblivious to the rising smoke, the laughter,
the roar of the small assembled crowd
sleeping through the Super Bowl
yet winning big because my mom
penciled my name in the right squares

Crawling under the table to hide
while they played poker in our dining room
I loved the names of the games
especially Dr. Pepper
I heard them say “bets” again and again
and wondered why they were talking about me

Coming to visit
“Gimme some sugar!” she exclaimed
holding out her arms and offering her cheek
before delighting me with her hospitality:
Cheez-its and Coke with ice cubes in amber glasses
generously poured
All of Forrest’s wind-up toys lined up
for me to make them march across the table
while the grown-ups talked
about grown-up things to which I listened hard but
only half understood

Climbing on the wooden two-stepped stool
under the phone in the kitchen
a Broyhill notepad and a pencil at the ready
for me to scribble important messages

Chicken chow mein for every special occasion
Coke cake for dessert
Macaroni salad delivered
in the big glass bowl every May
for my dad’s birthday
luckily, he shared some with us

Cheering for the Redskins
in the living room or at RFK
whether or not they won
Fight for Old DC!

Christmas after Christmas,
matching sweaters for my sister and me
knitted with love
if not always fitting quite right

Casablanca Court’s queen
on her La-Z-Boy throne
ensconced in sweatshirts, soft fuzzy socks, and blankets
while Forrest wore short sleeves and smiled

 

Betsy Rosenblatt Rosso
February 16, 2018

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