Literary Gems is brought to you with the support of Raiman Rocks.
This series is curated by Gali Rotstein.
The Wedding Ring
by Terri Hanauer
I tried on my mother’s clothes
she was already in the ground
lying beside my father
so I didn’t think she’d mind.
It was the dress from that photo
when she was 20 in Prague.
The photo was black and white
but I had a feeling the dress was emerald
wool with long sleeves and a thin belt around the waist.
I tried on the shoes. Heavy black thick straps and heel.
Nylons with a seam down the back.
She had a gold tooth so I put that on, too.
I let my hair be wavy like hers
with two clips pulling the sides back.
The hat was black with a thin net veil.
Her stride was long and strong
she had no idea where she was headed.
When I was ten I stood in front of her dresser
the round mirror with me in the middle.
It was eight o’clock
middle of July
Ed Sullivan was on
the lamp was on
I took off
my clothes and put on her pearls
and then her lace blouse.
I heard laughter.
It wasn’t coming from the living room.
It was the neighbors next door
they were standing on their back porch
watching my shadow through the pull-down shade.
Laughing. At. Me.
I crouched down
lay on the floor for half an hour. Shaking.
No more to see
they went back into their house.
For my wedding
I wore my mother’s ring
the one she carried through the camps,
the one that held in its
brilliance the facets of
the women who had come before.
I married them all.
They put their arms around me
and held me close.
Today I wear my mother’s kindness.
At least I try to.
Oh, and I thought you should know
the neighbors have all died.
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Poetry by Terri Hanauer © Chiaroscuro Productions, 2020