Academic journal article Frontiers - A Journal of Women's Studies

My Mother's Clothes

Academic journal article Frontiers - A Journal of Women's Studies

My Mother's Clothes

Article excerpt

 
My mother's clothes 
 
Alison Townsend 
 
 
After the party 
that came after the funeral, 
when the last neighbors had gone home 
with their sympathy, empty casserole 
 
dishes and promises to call soon, 
my father asked her sisters 
if they wanted her clothes. 
He stood in the bedroom 
 
and threw the closet door open, 
pulling out her fake fur coat 
with the pink satin lining, 
a pair of silver party shoes 
 
she'd worn twice, and the row 
of homemade dresses she'd sewn, 
rick-rack decorations zigzagging 
 
around the collars and sleeves. 
My aunts stepped back as if 
he'd struck them, or they could 
catch cancer from touching 
 
what once touched her. And the more 
my father pressed upon them, 
the more firmly they refused, until 
I wanted to hurl myself at their feet 
and beg them to take something 
even if they only threw it away 
when they got home. Anything 
to stop my father standing there, 
 
her dresses draped in his arms 
like the photographs of him 
carrying her over the threshold. 
But all I could do was stand 
 
in the closet later for hours, 
shutting the door, and wrapping 
myself in the shape and scent 
of what remained of her, 
 
until the pain left and I slept, 
and my father found me, 
curled under the fur coat, 
with the pink satin lining, 
 
my cheek pillowed against 
the sparkling silver shoes 
he took to Goodwill 
the next morning. … 
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