A Beautiful and A Bitter Shroud
When I was little, I found a magic box,
tucked under the eaves where
we were told not to go.
Something compelling about the
forbidden, triangular space,
sealed off by lath and plaster,
made me resolved, beyond curious.
I kicked and pulled until plaster shattered
and wood cracked, delightfully.
The large box was filled
with silk, organza and tulle,
the proud-worn gowns
of my mother's college days.
At those ***** she danced
in them, hair coiled up
and earrings sparkling.
It was not about the men, I knew,
but her need to be admired.
I don't recall a punishment
for opening the box
but she relented and allowed
my sister and I to put on
her finery and pretend.
We wrapped them round us
and twirled to imaginary waltzes,
stepping on long hems so many times
that the gowns all came undone.
The rags were put away
and the room sealed up.
In my youth I recall but a few
times Mother gave in
and let us be children
or fairy princesses for a while.
Now she is old and finally
trying to wrap me in her shroud,
to make resentment drag me down
and envy of me, crippled with self-hate.
But that no longer works
and I tell her, finally grown
that this is not allowed.
I summon up pity and vague sympathy,
even if love left long ago.
I tell myself that
everyone dies alone.