There’s a stranger in the mirror looking back at me.

My face has changed over the years– maybe the mirror is just a liar.

Tough to think on the way time morphs a person to

become someone else, someone different, someone you don’t even know.

The change is so subtle, you don’t even notice until it’s too late.

It’s already happened and there’s nothing you can do about it.

I lean in and see gray hair glittering- what is this shit?

How can I be this upset? Gray hair suffers such infamy.

I tug at my roots, search for another- if I dye it, it’d be a clean slate.

Should I go red or maybe blond? But no, none of those would be familiar.

Blue? No- abandon my hair, look deep into eyes of a woman I know I should know.

And though she is silent she looks back at me too.

I twist around and pull at my shirt, wondering about a shoulder tattoo.

Would it be painful? What would I get? Would my husband even like it?

I can hear him now, grumbling about cost and permanency- his answer would be no

if it were up to him. There would be mention of how I was a mommy

and moms don’t do these things, but is this one of those myths that’s just a liar?

I could do it without a word, then it’d be too late….

But no, it’s an option I won’t even contemplate.

I turn back around and lean in close, widening my eyes- they’re old too.

I pull at the crows feet trying to form and stretch the skin back to a place that’s familiar.

Release the skin, it bounces back– narrow them tight ’til they’re only a slit

I’ve always been this way, my own worst enemy

Most people liked what they saw in the mirror. Me though? No.

Too many freckles, eyebrows too bushy, and this nose? Just no.

Clearly my issues run deeper, right past these eyes of chocolate

and into the soul of who I truly I am, a brain that has always been so stormy.

Just my personality or maybe some emotional illness to pass blame onto?

I don’t know the answer and that’s painful to admit.

I feel like I don’t fit, like I’m just too weird or peculiar.

Even that descriptor is strange, that word “peculiar”

What made me choose it? I don’t even know.

Maybe something positive, I know I’ve got grit…

Am I the only one like this? Can anyone else relate?

Lean on the counter, I just need to stew

Around and around I go, looking into the eyes of this stranger looking back at me.



Kristina Stokes lives in Palmyra with her husband and four children. She is an English major in her junior year. She loves coffee, reading, writing, chickens, rabbits, unicorns, and cake. Her work has appeared in publications like The Linnet’s Wings and Momsense Magazine.