I remember brushing my small girl's face
against creamy silks, fur and velvet,
smelling perfume lingering on
a gown of blue satin with silver stars.
I remember thin-strapped shoes,
a sequinned purse glittering in the shadows.
Immersed in the archaeology of romance
in my mother’s closet.
I remember watching her in cotton dress,
sagging shoes, snapping green beans,
making jam, pushing back her hair,
stirring pots - a tired farm wife, mother of four.
This mother that I knew - had she really
danced in perfumed silk?
Did she grieve for those days
of glamour and freedom?
Did she, like me, secretly come
to the dark sweetness at
the back of her closet, press her face
into silken folds, inhale memories?
Another women shared our home
and our mother.
I always knew that what they had
was the best. The electric glance,
the laughter when, doubled over,
tears streaming down cheeks,
they gave each other that look.
Sharing kitchen chores, gossiping,
mothering four children,
trips to the lake or the beach,
friends for life.
Between, or on the side,
one man, my father, oblivious, peaceful,
going about his chores.
Or did he know?
Had he glimpsed the big love
hidden in my mother’s closet?
Painting by Jennifer Luthi