My Mother on My Cousin’s Wedding Day
Children weren’t invited. I said that
Wasn’t fair, I wasn’t a child. I was thirteen,
had never seen a wedding, except on television.
She opened a flat box of stockings,
Pulled them on gently, fastened them to her girdle.
I watched her pull the beige lace dress over her head
shake it down her slender frame, gently push
her arms through the sleeves.
I zipped the dress closed.
I climbed onto her bed, mesmerized by the lace sheath.
Paid full price too. Coral high heeled pumps,
Matching clutch bag, sparkling costume jewelry.
She leaned towards the mirror to put on her lipstick,
coral, like the shoes. From a box she
Withdrew a hat, broad brimmed in the front
Ivory chiffon covered with tulle.
My father waited downstairs in his favorite chair
trying not to sweat in the August heat.
I followed them out the front door, sat
on the porch steps,the concrete hot on my thighs.
The green and white fins of our Chevy disappeared
down the street. She was forty-five. I knew
she’d be the prettiest, best dressed lady there.
She wore the lace dress again, over and over
With the coral shoes. But the hat
Stayed in back of the closet for years
Till one day the square box went to Goodwill.
Nobody wears hats any more, she said.