Now I remember her hands, her poor hands, which, even then were old from
whiter on the inside than they should have been,
and hard, the first joints of her fingers, little fattened pads,
the nails filed to sharp points like old-fashioned ink pens,
painted a jolly color.
Her hands stood next to her face and wanted to be put away, prayed
for the scrub bucket and brush to make them useful.
And, as I write, I forget the years I watched her
pull hairs like a witch from her chin, magnify
every blotch-as if acid were thrown from the inside.
But once a year my mother
rose in her white silk slip,
not the slave of the house, the woman,
took the ironed dress from the hanger-
allowing me to stand on the bed, so that
my face looked directly into her face,
and hold the garment away from her
as she pulled it down.
Written by Toi Derricotte
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