Saturday Poem: The Double Image Redux

Turn the photo of your mother in its frame
so she can’t tsk her tongue against her teeth:
the cold eyes will follow you just the same—

a trick of perspective like Mona Lisa’s gaze.
Covering her mouth can’t stifle its critiques
when you turn your mother’s photo in its frame.

Drape her face in silk, in rich brocade,
or swaddle her in lambswool. Under the sheath,
her cold eyes will follow you just the same.

Crown her in rubies as the Queen of Shame,
who made you lie in it like piss-drenched sheets
(and no use telling her that you were framed).

You look nothing like her. She stakes no claim
on your nose or brow, your how-may-I-help-you cheeks—
or do her cold eyes follow you just the same?

So hang her image in the Hall of Fame
where you can still gawk up from underneath.
It’s no use turning the photo in its frame—
her cold eyes will follow you just the same.

by Julie Kane & Erica Reid
from Rattle #83, Spring 2024
Tribute to Collaboration

Julie Kane & Erica Reid: “We messaged back and forth over the course of three days as the villanelle grew a few lines at a time. One of us wrote the first 2 lines, tercet 3, tercet 5, and the second line of the quatrain. The other one wrote the third line, tercet 2, tercet 4, and the first line of the quatrain. That gave us one refrain line each; or, as Theodore de Banville put it, the gold thread and the silver thread of the villanelle. We both find collaboration joyful, as it restores the element of play to poetry when we start to get too serious about it.”