After Norman Rockwell’s Triple Self-Portrait
The painter makes himself younger
than the mirror’s 20-20 vision: full head of hair,
pipe firm between lips instead of drooped
like the corners of his mouth. One eyebrow arches,
wrinkling his painted forehead, his only creases.
What would any woman’s triple self-
portrait reveal? I hope she, too, sees the best of
herself—hair swept from her face,
the start of a playful smile, Breakfast at Tiffany’s
sunglasses and pearls. I might paint that now.
Ten years ago, I sketched the funhouse mirror—
non-pregnant belly swollen to seven
months, hips cracked open and pushed farther apart.
I gave myself a breast reduction, took back
what men first notice. I stared my reflection down,
eyes narrowed, but I looked away first.
Melissa Fite Johnson’s first collection, While the Kettle’s On (Little Balkans Press, 2015), won the Nelson Poetry Book Award and is a Kansas Notable Book. Her poems have appeared in Valparaiso Poetry Review, Broadsided Press, velvet-tail,and elsewhere. Melissa teaches English and lives with her husband in Kansas. Feel free to connect with her at melissafitejohnson.com.