A Portrait of Mother

Alyssa Nasser, Bienvenue a Niagra. Oil on canvas, 2022


By Tracy Schrader


Mother has a window. 

a big, wide picture window overlooking an elm tree. 

dusty sunlight pours in. 

Mother’s eyes pour out. 

i’ve stood underneath the elm tree before. 

she stares out, but you would never see from below. 

still, it’s a beautiful picture. 


Mother’s figure trapped in a flowy dress. hair limp around her shoulders. 

red candles. an empty ballroom. torn red curtains. 

a castle on top of the world. 

a dark-haired, 


dark-gowned girl 

watching from the end of the hall.


and Mother would never know if i didn’t clear my throat. 

she turns. 

and her eyes are blank and void. 

when she looks out that window, she is no longer Mother. 

i don’t know who she is.

but she would never slide down the stair rails, 

climb up the bookshelves for a book, 

lightly braid my ebony hair, 

never dance, 

never glide, 

never love, 


not when her eyes are like that. 


after looking out her window, 

she is a


and i am the only one around

to feel her 

haunting presence


Mother has a window.