She stored the old country
In a cedar box: folded quilts,
Stiff, brown-tinted photographs of plump children
With a solemn wet-nurse. Her shrewd eyes
Refused to shrink, to be female, shy.
Pride seamed her taffeta,
held the table’s oilcloth straight,
nurtured African violets ledging
dining room windows. At twenty-two
she denied her only suitor and said
she didn’t like the way he walked.
No man unlocked her camisole.
She did for others: stretching
washed crocheted curtains
on pine frames in the drying sun,
pinching creamy yeast dough
into braids and buns. Afternoons,
her hearing aid turned down,
she rocked before TV, her rosary
pooled between her knees.

:: Patricia Henley, Back Roads (1996)

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