The Cedarville Review 2021

I am my mother’s daughter. Scotch-taped to the mirror in my childhood bedroom is a picture of Mom and me. I don’t have many, because she is usually the one behind the camera, capturing all the moments I’m too little to remember. But I do have this one. She’s young — probably 25, married 5 years, recently returned to America. Her dark, permed curls sit in her face as she leans down to stabilize me. She’s wearing a denim dress that I think about asking her about every time I look at it. She said she donated it. I’m not quite 2, blonde and boyish, swaddled in green, and I’m straddled atop one of those spring-loaded horses that teeter back and forth in the woodchips. I’m smiling, but Mom looks worried. Why does Mom look worried? It’s only a picture, only a snapshot of a moment I don’t remember, but still, I can feel the crunch of amber leaves, the smell of crisp air, the grainy haze of the faded tones that hangs over autumn moments. The longer that I stare, the easier it becomes — it is just as easy that I could be wearing that denim dress, in that snapping fall air, pushing that baby, worried about what Mom is worried about. Me and Mom; Mom and me. I’m 5 and it’s my birthday. I’m wearing my favorite powdery blue pile of taffeta and ribbons and a feather boa; I found Mom’s lipstick this morning and there’s a crime scene of mauvy pink all over my face. Mom has spent the past week slaving over the batter-stained binder in the kitchen, the glossy pages faded and pencil-scarred from years of revision. Even though it’s January, she’s sweating; ❇ ❇ I AMMY MOTHER’S DAUGHTER KRISTEN DOYLE