--LJ Cohen, May 2015My Mother’s PearlsI sit on the edge of their bed; my legs—thorn scored,
road bruised, sun burned—kick at air. My mother
broods before the tall mirror, leans in, a tiny brush
in one hand, lipstick barrel in the other. She draws
on a fancy face to match the dress and sheer stockings.
My father, in a familiar suit, waits behind her, a double
strand of pearls pooling in his large hand. He smiles
down at her. Only I notice. She outlines her eyebrows
with an artist’s deft strokes. My father sweeps
the hair from the back of her neck before resting
pink-tinged, perfectly round beads on her collarbone.
His fingers are not in the least bit clumsy as he snicks
the silver clasp closed. In my memory, I want
her to lean back against him, rest her head
on his broad chest and solid shoulders.
My husband drops me at the airport, carefully
pulls out my suitcase with its black dress folded
and packed, just in case, beneath the rest of my clothes.
While the car idles, he circles his arms around me.
I cling to him, dreading the rush of air between us
as we part: the ghost of my mother’s pearls
and my father’s regret cool against my skin.