By: Sharyl Collin
Fifty years after their divorce, my father
still tells her she is beautiful. I watch
his face for signs of insincerity, but see
only appreciation for a thing no longer his.
I wish I wasn’t so bothered by the way
her lips have fallen into her mouth, after
she stopped wearing the dentures that never
fit right, made by the dentist in the strip mall
I tried to warn her about.
When I was young, she told stories
about the way her parents had favored
Aunt Ellie, the designated bearer
of familial looks and brains. Grandpa
used to joke that mom’s size 8 feet
were shoeboxes, because they stood out
like prize winning gourds beside the petite
size 5s Grandma and Aunt Ellie wore.
I could never see the utility in pin-point feet
that would leave you floundering for balance,
but I, too, have been guilty of peddling
a weakness as a strength. I don’t think
my line of women ever got the hang
of walking straight, tumbling
from the arms of one man to the next
in that illusive search for Prince Charming.
I used to prop myself on the toilet tank
to watch my mother tease her hair
into a bouffant before drawing on eyes,
lips and brows, each feature waiting its turn
to be the center of her focus, so that I
looked on as if watching Picasso, longing
to take the brush and paint her pupils wide
so she could see me sitting behind her.
Last week, I found a picture taken outside
the Little White Chapel in Vegas after
she married her second husband in a series
that extended to five. I was struck
by her resemblance to Jackie Kennedy,
dark hair rich against skin more smooth
than I could recall, curved calves tucked
into slender heels I’d never noticed,
though I knew well the eyes. She told me
they were doe eyes, and that I
didn’t have them, though I did
end up with her feet.
Sharyl Collin didn’t plan on being a poet, but when she began writing at the age of 50, she realized she spoke poet. Her poems have appeared in various publications, including Mason’s Road Literary Journal, Wild Goose Poetry Review, *82 Review, The Intentional, Lummox and Mother’s Always Write.