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  • Writer's pictureAnne Mitchell

A poem on identity has me perched atop an existential high dive…

To write about what formed me into this Anne

at a point in life sandwiched between passing of parents,

flyaway of a child, covid-era divorce by a notary

at the UPS store- I am faux introspection,

wandering in the rain, a stranger

in a seaside town, cupped hands to peek

in windows for signs of a warm

fire, a lure, but it’s a bank holiday-all is dark.

Then, courage to put an eyeball through the mail slot-

first home on 3 Englewood Road, a probe for clues

of me hiding behind the gold fleur-de-lys wallpaper,

up the pulldown stairs Into the attic

where red felt doorknob covers

rest their ribbons and bells between christmases

beside the coffin of my mother’s childhood doll, Wendy Ann.

“Don’t ever open that lid” we are told,

imaging porcelain bones concaved under her lace dress.

Summer heat fuels wasps to build their papery nests

in the eaves, dangling legs, little sabres

thwart attempts to peel open the yellowed tape

of old photo boxes, wedding albums. We don’t sink

our faces into mothballed fur muffs,

or sparkle in the sequined gowns

zipped up in quilted garment bags.

Once, I asked about Anne Lovelace,

two thirds of my name atop the calligraphied tree,

the one framed in silver over the radiator

by the front door, still dented from Dad’s tumbler,

hurled on his way out. “She’s the reason we are all here”,

some widow heroine who writhed

in 17th century seas in a hold of puke and pee

to rock 8 children towards the land of Mary,

their heads still attached for a beach landing

in the estuary of the Chesapeake. “No relation”,

I was told, later, when Nixon flooded through the Watergate

by way of a Deep Throat, a porn queen named Linda-

Yet the chortles come, the eyebrows raise,

I’m undressed with imagination at border crossings

on those first trips abroad-Lovelace it seems,

needs no translation.

I place her name in my Himitsu-Baku, Japanese

puzzle box- secret stash of love, wanderings, lost coins

of white magic Horcruxes bedded in Hakone walnut, cedar-

the mosaic’s key a soulprint, my long slide through time.

Published in February, 2022, The Poet Magazine Vol. 2 - Cultural Identity


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