Lawrence English - The Liquid Casket

We prodded the photos with our nails and lifted the static-heavy plastic to finger the polaroids and dull, cloudy portraits of our mother, posed in scenes and settings that we were barely able to believe or recognize or grasp without physically holding the photos in our hands, up to our faces, close enough to smell the chemicals of the pictures. There she was—our breakfast, lunch, and dinner mother, our laundry mother, our first-aid mother, our tuck-in mother, our second-opinion mother, our own dear, personal mother—out in the world before us, thinking her bright thoughts and looking very young. She wore a fur coat and stood, smiling, in front of a birch tree. She sat at a picnic table, hair done up in a dizzying swirl, surrounded by young women in uniform blue jackets, laughing and clutching her hands to her chest, happy. Seeing my mother like that, while in the company of my brothers, living in ways that we had never known or witnessed, had a displacing effect, and it felt to me like waking up in the middle of the night, or in the morning, and seeing my hand, after my arm had fallen asleep, and not knowing whether or not it was still attached to my body. It was also like coming upon a pattern within a section of wallpaper and seeing some remarkable and uncanny resemblance to a familiar face.

[BUY Wilderness of Mirrors]

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