Wednesday, December 9, 2009


by Lyn Lifshin

Otter Creek lulling, spitting damp air
where lilac curtains were taken down. My
mother, older than my grandmother was
when I dreamt and shook in this room,
sits on my old bed, the dusty jewelry
boxes spread open. “You lost so many
of my earrings, honey, but like the
Lindberg doll you ruined, I let you.”

Rhinestones tangle with pins of horses
in the box where a ballet dancer used
to twirl to “Dance Ballerina Dance.”
My mother pulls a silver dollar to her,
tries to read the date with the one
eye she can. Remember the leaves in the
whirlpool? I held you in this bed when
you moaned with chicken pox she says

years after the Nazis I still dreamt they’d
sneak into the house. Rhinestones cloud over
like an eye, the bracelet of Cuban coins from
David before he said “suit your self” when I
asked if I should wear the yellow evening
gown strapless, then didn’t say a thing.
Hearts of rhinestones, silver ballet dancers
for ears, lavender hoops, lavender flowers.

Fraternity pins from loves whose names I
don’t remember, rhinestone spray Ron
Agasipour tried to peal from me, like the black
dress of transparent lace in the Middlebury Inn
over where the Junior Women’s Club dance
droned on. My mother untwists silver chains
pimply boys thought would make me want
them, says her fingers don’t work. “Take them

back now or throw them out,” she says of these
fake jewels in their worn cocoons of silk and
velvet as if they were dead babies I could bury
under the floor of my house to wait for their spirit
to bring back what’s gone

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