Self-Portrait with Hands

They have teased music from a classical guitar,
woven brightly dyed wool into a winter knit,
and pencilled themselves into a sketch.

They cover my face now, as I pose
before a speckled, frameless mirror
tucked away, out of sight, under the stairs.

She’s there, somewhere in the shadows,
the one whose fingers plucked and drew –
how did they stiffen into wrinkled claws?

I move my hands, reveal my mother’s face,
time-stamped with crow’s feet and a trace
of the sparkle of her timeless, girlish smile.

Kim M. Russell, 8th September 2020

My response to dVerse Poets Pub Poetics: Come and take a selfie!

Sarah is our host this Tuesday with a request for self-portrait poems. She says that there are self-portrait poem generators on-line, in which one simply completes some boxes to make a poem, but she wants more.

Sarah has given us examples of self-portrait poems, organised from the more concrete to the more abstract. Barri Armitage made such a brilliant job of her glasses, I won’t even start on mine.

Sarah would like detailed descriptions of what we see in the mirror; we can use it as a springboard to head off in an unexpected direction.

43 thoughts on “Self-Portrait with Hands

  1. Oh, Kim, this is very poignant. I tend to see my grandmother, not my mother, but I know that feeling. It’s kind of strange and kind of lovely to have that connection. I like the way you led with your hands – they are so important, and it sounds like you have used yours well. I like your speckled mirror, hidden away. Thank you for sharing this.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Loving this! I remember as a young girl, sitting in church with my mother and looking at my pretty hands – so smooth – and then at hers and seeing blue veins and wrinkles. Oh how time circles round….now those are my hands. I like how you talk about your hands here….and then revealing some of your mother as you look into the mirror.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. My hands aged first, they are the give-away. My face has very few wrinkles and the silver in my hair is mostly underneath – I would love a full head of silver-white, but I don’t want to get it dyed. I’ll just have to be patient!


  3. Oh! This is gorgeously evocative, Kim 💝 I love; “They have teased music from a classical guitar,” it tells so much about your passionate and creative soul! Time changes us, yes 🙂 but I like to believe that even though our body, our skin changes we are alight and glowing nevertheless.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Such beautiful, solemn and lovely writing. Your first stanza was amazing and it intrigued me greatly with the musical imagery:

    “They have teased music from a classical guitar,
    woven brightly dyed wool into a winter knit,
    and pencilled themselves into a sketch.”

    If that isn’t a killer opening for a poem, then I don’t know what is. The faces we see tracing back to family, it is quite an experience to see the traits, combined, that make us who we are. Beautiful, mesmerizing poem!

    Liked by 2 people

  5. It is interesting how those parental features creep up on us as we age! I guess that is to be expected. Very nice work on your poem. Love the images of the ragged old fingers becoming wrinkled claws. Arthritis does strange things to bones and joints! .

    Liked by 1 person

  6. The first time I ‘saw’ my mother in my face I was flooded with emotion. Shock that I had not noticed earlier, pride knowing as I aged I looked like her, fear the dementia that took her would take me. Your poem is quite special.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you, Ingrid. I stopped playing guitar after I had a stroke in my early thirties and my left hand doesn’t always do what it should. I gave my guitar to my neighbour’s son, who made good use of it.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Sorry to hear that! I used to play the guitar as a love-struck teenager. I bought my son a guitar but he’s not interested in practicing at the moment so I have had a little play now and again during the lockdown, but I’m rather rusty!

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Like Sarah, I don’t look in mirrors for me, just to poke at something, a floating eyelash, a mosquito bite. And it’s true, more often than not it’s my mother I see not myself 🙂
    This is poignant, the transition, that it has to involve the lose of suppleness.

    Liked by 2 people

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