Elsewhere: Her Face


I’ve been wearing her face my entire life.

Even before she died, people used to tell me: “Oh, you look so much like your mom!” I’ve never been quite sure what my response is supposed to be: Thank you? Once she died it became my job to wear her face around, to perpetuate my mother’s nose, her cheekbones, the way she laughed from deep inside herself, the way she stroked the rough skin of her elbow when she was thinking.

She was thirty-three when her body first betrayed her, when the lump formed in her breast. The breast was removed and replaced with a flat pink scar, but not before the lump sent cells scattering out into her bones, eating away at the infrastructure of her body like termites. Now I am nearly thirty-three, and I wonder if something is waiting inside me, if my body will betray me too. My mother looks at me from behind my cheekbones in the mirror as I examine myself braless, feeling for lumps, trying to imagine the shape of myself without my breasts, flat pink scars on my chest….

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