Portrait of My Mother as a Child by Jessica Marion Modi

As if she’s about to tell
a secret from her childhood, or mine.
Lips almost open, scrunched brow,
suspicious of someone looking at her this way.
Hanging from pointy shoulders, her dress preserves
marks from her mother’s disciplined ironing,
straight creases down to her dirty, white sneakers.
She balances on the toe of one foot, heel of the other.
Arms hovering as if puppeteer of her own body.
The way I do. I have posed like her
mid falling or jumping toward the camera.
I own that dress. I am the girl staring
skeptical, caught by her mother’s lens: this gaze—
blurry image of myself clearer as I stare at us.




Jessica Marion Modi is a poet and essayist living in Brooklyn, NY. She is
Poetry Co-Editor of Washington Square Review, and pursuing her MFA in
Poetry at New York University, where she is a Goldwater fellow.

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