Sunday, 28 April 2019

What She Wore

by Robbi Nester

My mother was so proud
of the graceful way she wore
her clothes. She posed before the three-way
mirror at the store, shopped compulsively,
closets and spare room filled with shirts
and shoes she never wore, still
in bags and boxes. I can see her,
dressed for going out, in a summer
shirtwaist, a poplin print of women
wearing multi-colored gowns, whirling
by themselves before the mirror.
The wide skirt bloomed around her,
patent leather belt cinching her waist.
Her red mouth, perfect teeth, dark skin
beneath a cloud of curls. No wonder
she was popular, a party girl, when she
was young. Always singing, smiling,
proud of her correctness, her perfect
diction, wasted in the God-forsaken
neighborhood where I grew up.
What she didn’t buy, she made herself,
sewing machine whirring, fabric flying
under her fingers.  She loved to dress me too,
made me all the outfits I imagined, like a purple
thigh-high mini-dress with tiny stained-glass buttons,
matching scarf, fringed in silver silk. More than
once, the high school sent me home
for wearing “indecent” outfits she had made.
My mother stood before me as before the mirror,
proud of my lovely shape, so like her own.

* * * * *

"What She Wore" is from Robbi Nester's 2019 collection Narrow Bridge, available at:

Robbi Nester is the author of four books of poetry: a chapbook, Balance (White Violet, 2012), and three collections, including A Likely Story (Moon Tide, 2014); Other-Wise (Kelsay, 2017); and Narrow Bridge (Main Street Rag, 2019). She has also edited two anthologies-The Liberal Media Made Me Do It! (Nine Toes, 2014) and an Ekphrastic e-book, Over the Moon: Birds, Beasts, and Trees--celebrating the photography of Beth Moon (published as an issue of Poemeleon Poetry Journal).

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