the difference between you and me
is as I bent over strangers toilet bowls,
the face that glared back at me
in these sedentary waters
was not my own,
but my mother's
brown head floating in a soap pool
of crystalline whiteness

she taught me how to clean
to get down on my hands and knees
and scrub, not beg

she taught me how to clean,
not live in this body

my reflection has always been
once removed.

- Cherrie Moraga (1952-)