Have You Seen Yourself From Behind

not in a mirror, but walking
along the roadside while
you are also driving in a midsized car,
a brand targeted to you and other women
who run the errands of midlife. You recognize
the gait. Not the look, but the feel,
as if you wear those shoes
around those feet, as if the left knee,
still recovering, does not bear its share
of weight. Even her hair looks tired–
that’s something another woman said
to you once on your way to get a photo
ID and you turned around and walked
back to your office. It was a moment
not worth preserving, though, look, you
still remember. She, like you, is graying
like the day, like the papers in a chest,
or do they always yellow? Either way
color drains, and that’s a signal
of a shift in life force, and as you pass
she burns at the edges, yes, the glasses
yes, the eyes off somewhere, yes,
she knows some news that you
don’t want to hear.

Emily Pérez is the author of What Flies Want, winner of the Iowa Prize; House of Sugar, House of Stone, and two chapbooks. She co-edited the anthology The Long Devotion: Poets Writing Motherhood. A CantoMundo fellow and Ledbury Critic, her work has appeared in Prairie Schooner, Copper Nickel, Fairy Tale Review, and Poetry. She teaches high school in Denver, where she lives with her family. Find more at www.emilyperez.org.

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