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Spitting- Image by Amber Castellanos

She was gone

before I could even comprehend what death was.

for the longest time

she was just the one who could never sit

still for a picture

and for years a picture is all I wanted to see.

My mom found one

buried deep within a bin

in the back of her closet,

In one of her enormous photo albums

faded into a muddy watermelon green.

The image was nestled

between my eight year old gapped-tooth uncle

and a mini me in a bright yellow sundress

with glittering sandals to match.

I carefully pulled out the image

of the woman I could not remember

but knew I still loved.

There was a crease right down the middle

were it had been folded.

It split her face

like wrinkled white veins splitting into perfect symmetry.

Her hair was the color of a stormy sky

She wore an oversized sweater, the darkest shade of red,

Lines stretched from the corners of her face

“Mommy she has your eyes,” I noted

Big, round, and observant

The color of melted milk chocolate on a sunny afternoon.

I looked back down at the image

for any sign of familiarity.

All I wanted was to remember.

My mom placed her hands on my shoulders,

“They’re yours too,” she said

and she moved me over

to face the mirror

Maybe that was all I ever needed to know.