Because my mother loved pocketbooks
I come alive at the opening click or close of a metal clasp.
And sometimes, unexpectedly, a faux crocodile handle makes me weep.
Breathy clearing of throat, a smooth arm, heels on pavement, she lingers, sound tattoos.
I go to the thrift store to feel for bobby pins caught in the pocket seam
of a camel hair coat.
I hinge a satin handbag in the crease of my arm. I buy a little change purse with its
curled and fitted snap.
My mother bought this for me. This was my mother’s.
I buy and then I buy and then, another day, I buy something else.
In Paris she had a dog, Bijou, and when they fled Paris in 1942 they left the dog behind.
When my mother died on February 9, 1983, she left me.
Now, thirty years later and I am exactly her age.
I tell my husband I will probably die by the end of today and all day he says, Are you
getting close, Sweetheart? And late in the afternoon, he asks if he should buy enough filet
of sole for two.
From a blue velvet clutch I take out a mirror and behold my lips in the small rectangle.
Put on something nice. Let him splurge and take you out for dinner, my mother whispers
on the glass.
There were strollers, outgrown, circulated till a wheel fell off.
Anna’s infant RockaRoo went to Francesca then to Sophia
who gave it back to Anna when she had the twins.
Travel cribs traveled between homes and the green vest
Sophia knitted for Ming’s first was worn by all the next babies.
Onesies, drawstring gowns, snap-legged overalls,
snowsuits, sweatpants, jeans, t-shirts, jumpers,
all sorted, washed, boxed then sent on
till they were sorted, washed, boxed and sent again.
Pj’s worn to that silkiest perfection, then worn
wholly through, reluctantly tossed. A blue dress
with applique lilacs was the favorite of each girl
and who knew where the velvet blazer came from,
but it did the job for more than one holiday concert.
Even this year, a photograph of Francesca’s youngest in
handsome in that hand-me-down wool pea coat. Sophia hit
Our last? No! Well, fits yours better than it ever did mine.