About Face


one week before we moved near Denver
Paul kissed me at the top of the slide
I raced home on my tricycle, downhill
towards the crumbling cement patio in
our Chicago apartment complex
took a tumble
skidded on the blacktop on my nose


swollen, stopped up, tear-streaked
my mother rocked me on the covered shag toilet seat
hydrogen peroxide-soaked cotton balls
bubbled pink I gargled Listerine to rinse away the iron tang
I dreamed that night that my nose was unharmed
and happy right where it was, sniffing Paul’s Dial soap
on his neck at the top of the slide


but when I awoke breath stale mouth dry
I returned to the bathroom mirror
fluorescent lights bearing down on me
bruised, green scab healed thick
like an uncured slab of bacon across
my burnt and broken bridge
and when the scab was gone


I looked in a new mirror in a little town in a state
where my mother was intent on returning
who was this staring back at me
with no freckles and nothing but
bare flesh smoothed pink as honeyed ham
my old face left behind along with cousins grandparents
freckles and Paul


my mother once told me don’t worry
when you stop growing you can always have a nose job
my sister once watched me getting dressed and said
if you had my face you’d be perfect
years later my freckles found me at my newest
address and another boy asked to kiss me
and another and another





About the Author

Amy Baskin’s work is featured in What Rough Beast, Riddled With Arrows, Fire Poetry Journal, The Ghazal Page, Postcards, Poetry & Prose, Dirty Chai, Panoply, and more.  She is a 2016 Willamette Writers Kay Snow Poetry award recipient for her poem “About Face.” She has worked on revision with Paulann Petersen and Renee Watson of I, Too, Collective, and participated in generative groups hosted by Allison Joseph and Jenn Givhan.