Mother – in the mirror
I often saw my mother sitting in front of the dresser, smoking a cigarette. She’d be facing the mirror without looking into her reflection. She inhaled with a small pop of her lips and released a long trail of smoke. Even with me in the room, she was alone, her and a cigarette.
I imagined her smoking in a 4.5 tatami-size apartment in Tokyo. She’d be humming the songs she learned at the utagoe coffeehouse, thinking of the school work, protest in Okinawa, and the man who gave her a pearl necklace.
I’d put my arms around her neck and smell her scent, cigarette smoke mixed with Shiseido foundation. It’d dawn on me that she was not just my mother but an individual with the past. She was once a girl who had hopes and fears. But that girl existed only in the vanity mirror while the cigarette burned. Once it was put out, she was again a mother and a daughter-in-law.