NaPoWriMo 9

In the Company of Women

When a woman you barely know
takes a tissue out of her purse
to wipe your child’s drippy nose,
you must refer to her as aunt,
even if she’s not.

Not related by blood
or proximity, she can be
more family than friend,
more friend than
your only sister.

She’s the one
who sends gifts in the mail,
oversized boxes wrapped
in brown butcher’s paper.
When unwrapped,
each present smells
of the sweet powder
you remember from childhood.

She teaches you
how to crack an egg
into two perfect halves,
how to make icing from scratch,
and fold T-shirts to look
as if they were never worn.

Older, wiser,
she’s never been married
always coming and going,
refuses to stay too long
in any one place.

And in the long crossword puzzle
of marriage, when you can’t help
but find new combinations of hurt,
she sits will you at the kitchen table
while you cry with the onions.

When the kids come in from outside play
asking, “What are you two drinking?”
She says “We’re sipping lemonade,”
when what you really have
is something much stronger.


evie said…
love the last lines! : )
Catherine said…
I was just going to say the same thing :)
January said…
Thanks Cathterine and Evie. This is one of those poems I'll scrap at the end of the month. Maybe I can dig out the best lines for something else.
RachelW said…
I felt drawn to the second last paragraph, always wanting to pick at wounds, I guess. And you have created a character here who I ejoyed meeting. It seems like a shame to scrap anything, even if the end result is a lovely patchwork quilt.
You have made a vivid picture of a woman we all know (though she will have a different face in each case)!

Now I'm off to read your RWP post.
Anonymous said…
i like the dual meaning of the last line.

don't scrap the whole thing. there are a few stories in here worth telling.
Anonymous said…
The second to last stanza has that great crossword imagery...I'd like to see you rework some of this and see what you can get out of it. (for the record, I do like the whole thing)
Anonymous said…
Lots of good solid details, even if you seem not to like it. Maybe you can save those for elsewhere.
Ananda said…
don't scrap this poem. it reminds me of my friends lauren and tracy and me. beauty. that's what it is to me friendship's beauty.
Leila said…
don't scrap this poem. i love it.
the only thing it might need - IF and only IF you think you have to tinker with it - is maybe somehow linking her single & motherless status to your (narrator's) status as mother. it might give the onion lines a wee bit more zing and the whole thing a bit of narrative heft. but seriously, great poem.

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