GREATGRANDMA

She didn’t much care what
the neighbors thought.
She would open
her wonderful shoe box
filled with holy cards and medals,
tell me stories of the saints’ lives.
I told her about
my five year old life,
about going downtown with Nana,
and my brother breaking my crayons,
and all the stuff I wasn’t supposed to tell
like about daddy not coming home for dinner.
We only went in the house
when Aunt Min
called me for a measurement.
Then we walked
past the mahogany paneled hall
with the floor to ceiling
doors that slid into the wall,
up three flights of stairs,
the last enclosed and winding.
Aunt Min’s room was filled
with cloth and ribbons,
and a large black sewing machine
under the sloping attic eaves.
She laid out buttons
for my new dress:
round pink spheres
shaped like flowers
and some like small pearl balls.
Pick whatever you like, she said.
Here, Greatgrandma said.
From the bottom of the shoe box.
she took six buttons that glittered
like tiny suns
making rainbows on the walls.
We watched while Aunt Min sewed them
on the white taffeta dress.
Mother let me wear the dress
when Greatgrandma died.
I never wore it again.

Gina Larkin

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