Self Portrait in a Type of Mirror

“Self Portrait in a Type of Mirror” was inspired by the memory of sitting in my mother’s basement “art room” and sketching portraits of each other. She has always been encouraging about any type of art that I wanted to make, and this particular time, in childhood confidence, I was convinced that I could draw a portrait of her just as realistic as hers of me as long as I built her from what I knew (in this case, rather than what I actually saw). I couldn’t.

We sketch each other, sit knee-to-knee.
I am six. My mother is still post-partum,

another loss. I am once again an only
child. I know faces are circles. A neck

is a rectangle. Use the side of the pencil
for thick hair. The point makes tiny wisps.

Leave a white oval in the pupil– to imitate
cartoons. Everything looks better in my head.

On paper, she smiles, close-lipped, a little
fallen comma at each corner. No wrinkles

because I love her today. I know it’s bad.
I know she’ll say it’s great. She uses

charcoal. I never realized she gave me
eyelashes, too. Now, they’re here forever.

I am always this small and pretty, to her. All
in black and white. Everything greyscale.

Eyes are already rounded like teardrops.
Her basement art room is chilly for Spring,

and I can bear only ten minutes until I have
to crawl into her lap. I am too young to know

the heart has no easy shape.

Alison Lubar teaches high school English by day and yoga by night. They are a queer, nonbinary, mixed-race femme whose life work (aside from wordsmithing) has evolved into bringing mindfulness practices, and sometimes even poetry, to young people. Their work has been nominated for both the Pushcart & Best of the Net, and they’re the author four chapbooks: Philosophers Know Nothing About Love (Thirty West Publishing House, 2022), queer feast (Bottlecap Press, 2022), sweet euphemism (CLASH!, Spring 2023), and it skips a generation (Stanchion, Fall 2023). You can find out more at or on Twitter @theoriginalison.



A Conversation with Esperanza Cintrón, Maria S. Picone, Managing Editor


Stubborn Writers Contest Winner Fish Mother, Natalie Harris-Spencer
Palomita Azul, Sofia Romero
Just Like Her but Selling Pharmaceuticals, David Morgan O’Connor
Tuesday May Never Come, Mario Aliberto III
Guai Guai, Jennifer Luh
Common Flower Parts, Sharon Lin


Seascape, Colin Xu
Inky Night, Rachel Feirman
Yachts on Fire, Steve Denehan
Daydreams, Donald Guadagni
Reclining Woman, Michael Moreth