International Women’s Day
Nothing Borrowed Nothing Blue
A goodbye-promise bride,
my grandmother worked her wait in the Navy.
So early in WWII, she modeled the first
dress whites, tailored to her ship-trim shape.
Her 22 inch waist would be packed under 6 pregnancies.
Her desire to graduate as a pilot
bustled into Belgium silk, thin as high altitude light.
I was 12 the first time I tried to fit.
My rib cage barely breathed,
the tiny seams close-caught.
Shoulders cagey in their breadth,
nothing puffed sleeves could convince otherwise.
I already stood at her altar height.
My mother, a bird of the high Slavic species,
porcelain as bone china plates,
worked at the optometrist’s office.
The library was where she lived. Words,
paper-cutting fragile, tucked behind her delicate smile.
In an empire waist dress, she sealed her silence,
a kiss, a promise kept for 30 years.
That zipper never met my frame,
18 year old hips catching the silhouette,
near-white knuckled fists of teenage protest.
Taller flat-footed than her high-heeled moment,
my wrists reached beyond the cuffs.
My own wedding was cut to size,
satin roses bound to the bend of my back.
After 15 years, philosophy found me,
flapped my sky black with migratory movement.
Home and work, carrot and stick.
I worked it out that I could have both,
3 kids, 2 degrees, 1 divorce. In the end,
my stride longer than a cathedral train could contain.
My mother always said, I walked like a sailor.