Tuesday, May 26, 2015

My Mother's Pearls (a poem)

My Mother’s Pearls

    I sit on the edge of their bed; my legs—thorn scored,
    road bruised, sun burned—kick at air. My mother
    broods before the tall mirror, leans in, a tiny brush
    in one hand, lipstick barrel in the other. She draws
    on a fancy face to match the dress and sheer stockings.
    My father, in a familiar suit, waits behind her, a double
    strand of pearls pooling in his large hand. He smiles
    down at her. Only I notice. She outlines her eyebrows
    with an artist’s deft strokes. My father sweeps
    the hair from the back of her neck before resting
    pink-tinged, perfectly round beads on her collarbone.
    His fingers are not in the least bit clumsy as he snicks
    the silver clasp closed. In my memory, I want
    her to lean back against him, rest her head
    on his broad chest and solid shoulders.

    My husband drops me at the airport, carefully
    pulls out my suitcase with its black dress folded
    and packed, just in case, beneath the rest of my clothes.
    While the car idles, he circles his arms around me.
    I cling to him, dreading the rush of air between us
    as we part: the ghost of my mother’s pearls
    and my father’s regret cool against my skin.
--LJ Cohen, May 2015

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