Releasing the Birds
Next to her embroidered lawn handkerchiefs my mother's empty gloves lay paired in the nest of her drawer: short white Easter ones that stopped at the wrist; netted crocheted gloves for summer; an ecru pair four inches past her watchband, the backs detailed with three rows of stitching raised like fine bones; three-quarter length pigskin to wear under coats; black lace for cocktails, white for weddings; sexy gloves with gathers up the length so they'd look like they were slouching; the knitted Bavarians, Loden green, stiff as boiled wool. My first prom dress—strapless, floor-length—I wore her formal opera gloves. Pearl buttons on the delicate underside of my wrists, then the white went up and up. I kept six pairs, my sister took the rest. Saying someone should use them, she gave them away at work, set them out for the taking. Tonight, I lay the table with my mother's china. At each place, a pair of gloves palms up, wrists touching in a gesture of receiving and giving. I held back the gloves she'd bought in Italy: black leather, elbow length, the right glove torn at thumb and palm as if she'd reached for something too late or held onto something too long.
Copyright © 2015 by Cathie Sandstrom. Originally published in Wide Awake: Poets of Los Angeles and Beyond (Pacific Coast Poetry Series, 2015). Used with permission of the author.