I was seven when I first heard
of Mother’s Day and thought,
How lovely for my mother
that my teacher has us doing crafts
at just the exact right time.
Miss Evans passed out bars of naked
Sweetheart soap, pure white,
the kind my mother bathed the baby with,
and used to scrub her nylons on Saturday,
the night before Mass.
I wrapped the oval bar in golden rick-rack,
cut from spools at the Five and Dime,
overlapping the ends. Then I used straight pins
(Be Careful!) to poke in purple plastic violets
on top, like a field of flowers in the snow.
I punctured my fingertip and it bled
onto a pale green leaf and I didn’t
wipe it off with a Kleenex from my bookbag.
Because Mom needed to know
how dangerous love can be.
She treasured that gift more than life,
setting it on the windowsill away from water
where lowlier bars bathed new babies
until only tiny fragments of soap
remained in the old chipped dish.
I emptied my mother’s house one day
and there sat my decades-old gift.
Dust and grime engraved upon the violets,
the rick-rack petrified, straight pins rusted,
the bottom cracked and dry.
I thought of the little girl with
the young mother and the old woman
now bathed by others with a fresh bar
of Sweetheart soap.
And I cradled it carefully in my hands.
Posted by Katy
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