We Face: a young mother in 1940 after picking peas


Dorothea Lange: Young Migratory Mother, originally from Texas, now in California, 1940

You an image, I imagining
what could have been if—
and only if—what might,
were, and you, so stoic,
nestled beyond need.

Resting perfectly within
the moon’s penumbra,
so full, and full of dim
uneven dread, and days
without a taste of sleep,

your eyes, so the cat’s,
so still those years, yet
so young, yet—I swear
I can see a grandmother
lurking in the hollows,

as you roll as no Texas
ever rolled, those cheeks
I stroll, your breath lifts,
and your hands sooth soft
your baby’s hungry croon.

If those lips could speak,
they might ease uncertainty
telling me what want is,
what you are: you could be
a lake of windless sheen,

shimmering across the way.
I wonder what seduces you:
a future not so sun burnt?
a metropolis of stockings?
or something even simpler—

a breath of fresher air.
You’ll never tell: we face
and in facing, I know nothing
but the possible, and is not
that all I need to know.