SPOT OF BLEACH


This dress is older than my son
5 years older, to be exact.
I bought it from the Indian shop
down by Columbia University,
made of light cotton muslin
nicely fitted about my waist
a bright fuchsia, opaque
my body outlined in the sun
falling gracefully to my hips,
down my big legs.

A spot of bleach fell on that dress today
leaving a white spot in its fuchsia wake
That dress reminds me of Sharon
who had more than I ever had
or ever needed, or could even dream existed
And I had been around, she less than me
But she was more widely traveled
in more fortunate circles than me

Still, I thought she was my friend
even when she said, “I can’t help it,
I’m jealous of you in that dress!”
“Why?” I said, “You have so much more
than I could ever hope for or dream of ...”

“It doesn’t make sense,” she responded,
“Somehow, you look prettier than I,
even though you’re not as slim,
as tall, as Anglo,
as cultured, as educated as I
I can’t figure out
why you look prettier than I”

Sharon, whose tarot cards I read,
two dark knights appearing ahead
one reversed, whose pursuits
I told her to reject

Sharon, whose need for company I met
at 3 a.m. while my husband coughed
bitterly in the room next to mine
when she refused to go home

Sharon, who told her tales of woe
about her latest love, her foes,
her rape when she left N.Y. for Florida
and returned to seek my solace
I thought she was my friend.

A spot of bleach fell on this dress today
Still I don’t wish to let it go
Perhaps a crocheted flower
will cover that bleached out spot
I could just throw that old dress out
I wish I could my memories
that cling like the smell of death

And I wonder if that’s how long
it takes to let go
Why even when we begin anew
the old never lets go ...
Miles of old lives travel within
our thin, threadbared own