Because your photograph
because your face
is a disguise

I can’t know what you feel
eyes focused elsewhere,
mouth half-closed

Thoughts invisible
date and occasion

A tatted lace collar
on a gray serge dress
or maybe the dress

was blue or violet
or even puce
I can’t tell

Perhaps newly pregnant
maybe delighted
or in despair

New eggs growing
in an invisible fetus
to become my grandmother

who will carry my mother
and all her eggs
who will birth me

who now contemplates
this late nineteenth century
black and white portrait

from a photography studio
which almost certainly
no longer exists

in downtown Chicago
or anywhere else
but I do exist here

Penelope Scambly Schott is a past recipient of the Oregon Book Award for Poetry. She lives in the small town of Dufur, Oregon (population: 635) and writes about Dufur and everything else. She teaches workshops in Dufur and she and her husband host poetry readings in Portland. Recent books include ON DUFUR HILL, SOPHIA AND MISTER WALTER WHITMAN (co-written with her dog Sophia), and her newly published WAVING FLY SWATTERS AT ANGELS.