with dusty miller, suffer the sea-change of dusk,
lightning bugs swim a reef of rosebushes. Beneath live oaks
reeded with Spanish moss, her daughters play, skinned-knee
urchins, chub-chub, churoo.
She watches them from her window;
finless mermaids, cavorting the giggled trip and fall
of dress-up, her honeymoon trousseau strewed across the yard—
seashell pink, aqua-blue, anemone lavender—
the Frederick’s of Hollywood joke girlfriends
perpetrate on Baptist virgins, the hundred-thousandth
keepsake she’d stored away only to let go
like petals of love-me-love-me-not daisies.
She remembers her sweet sixteenth,
how she begged her mother for a silver taffeta dress, danced
in front of the dressing room mirrors, a minnow darting
from glass to glass downward to infinity—
no boy with clumsy hands and a jelly jar
would ever hold her—
and how once, on a trip to the city, she visited
a mercantile museum, losing corridor after corridor,
amnesiac compass, absentia pole star,
until finally she found herself
amongst Treasures of the Far East, uplit cases of glass
exquisite with jade netsuke, samurai swords, carved ivory Buddhas,
and she paused, time enough
to ponder a Japanese kimono—burnt-orange tsumugi
embroidered with fire-red coi, prized
possession of a forgotten geisha—
closed her eyes to feel the silk,
the wrenish toddle, the layered whispers of movement delicate
as the swish of green tea in porcelain cups.
Now, her gaze takes-in
her daughters, spinning raucous cartwheels
against a sailor’s sun.
she gave up her lover. May blooms—white clover
iridescent against a tidal line of grass.