Handle with Care

55% Cotton

A tight weave, but a natural fiber for the air to flow through. You can scrub along the grain line and hang me to dry. A summer breeze will release the wrinkles. I’m the nine patch quilt top, pieced by your nana’s bridge partner and you keep it for those nights when the heater doesn’t turn on. Your go-to button up for Thursday’s whiskey sour at The Brotherhood, but I fold neatly as you close the bottom drawer and don your Sunday best for worship.

30% Roman Candle

You know you shouldn’t clasp me in your hand, but for a moment, I can make the July night glow crimson or silver or magenta over the tree line. But when I’m earthside, can you remember to keep my embers from the pine needles and dry brush? 

Use an iron on low to smooth out the creases. Lay the seams flat to the flesh. Leave one button open at the collar and expose a simple cross on an 18k gold chain. 

We close our eyes and our palms form a congregation. Nod to the man entering the chapel for a weeknight funeral service and JFK to SEA makes its final approach overhead. I lay my hand on top of his, trying not to grasp too hard, or hover and make him wonder why I can’t just recite my Hail Mary like “all good Catholics can.”

Every thy, every amen and another hour passes, give a gentle press to my palm. Say yes at seven and by nine you’re booked through October. A high like I’m riding shotgun on a trip to Detroit. And then I come down when he drops me at the Boise bus station and wishes me luck in the exhaust.

One summer, I didn’t make a birthday wish. But I did ask God to plant every thought of you in a faraway field, if the seeds weren’t to germinate. How old is too old to lament about a swell of salt and seaweed that never reaches past the sand bar? 

10% Supersonic

I pace the floor of the millennium ballroom. A little black dress, satin tassels that puff out when I twirl and sequins streaming down the cap sleeve. My hair reaches past my waist, slicked back to finger waves. Persimmon gloss blotted on a sip of sweet red. I lead in the ball change, follow in the box step. 

A recited confession that nine years of Catholic school prepared me to be nervous for, but punctual in a group setting, and an oath to ask God about you each night after listing more altruistic intentions. What I didn’t learn is how long that aisle can be when marching to an altar that remains unoccupied outside of church hours. 

The other day, my neighbor looked me in the eye and told me I was a gorgeous woman. I smiled and thanked her for her kindness. Her cool compress interrupted, wondering why those words would have only meant  something if it was your smile, your voice, your reflection. 

Rayon jersey knit drinks up yesterday’s shaken espresso, today’s 37% chance of precipitation. 

Sparkling bubbly, peeling calendar torn pages, grain line, chain link nine patch. Scrap together swirls, dots, rosaries, blood orange batiks, gold leaf finish.

I put on my raincoat and the drops condense down the laminate stitching. I remember standing barefoot on the rocks by Alki. For a moment I was the waves, cut glass pounding the seawall. I saw two twin flames, vows, anniversaries in the sand. Two folding chairs, wool blanket, champagne in an ice bucket, a little bonfire ready to be set ablaze. But like sog to the kindling, my tide couldn’t reach the shore. 

I knew that I should thank the Good Lord for the moon’s reflection, the evening’s chill to flesh and embroidered linen. A frosted tomb, knowing I have two hands to embrace not you, but the drips of seaspray as the park lights extinguish. 

August, her gaping sensor, blurring the focus. Swipe on cyber and maybe she’ll make an appearance. Appeal for an extension to Lady Madonna, to four summers, to a salt glaze bleached in emulsion, developer, stop, fix.

5% Birthday Flame

Birthday flame, married to vanilla sponge, swiss meringue scallops. The kitchen faucet, she keeps the time, the wax drips, her minute hand. My one wish, one breath can’t extinguish. She remains a secret that only one can keep.

Photo by Ihor Malytskyi on Unsplash