I come from a line of women

by christine on March 26, 2018

Inheritance

I come from a line of women with cotton house dresses,

bibbed aprons, flour and butter on their hands,

the smell of vanilla as they smudged kisses on my cheek.

I stood in the playpen, watched Winifred turn fruit into jam,

Ruby cut shortening into pastry, Matilda’s belly push

tight against her apron. I wondered what she swallowed.

Evelyn, Amelia, Lena – named for German ancestors

or women in the Bible. Names that matched

their fine bone china, starched linen tablecloths

and scrubbed kitchen floors. Women who stood

tall under wide-brimmed hats in church and sang out of tune.

Women who told stories while they shelled peas,

snapped ends off beans.

 

They came from a line of women with names

like Lucy, Margaret, Maud – sisters who never married,

teachers and a nurse who traveled and painted.

These women loved Latin and books, a trip to the city

for leather boots, a drive in the cutter.

They stood outside the kitchen,

dressed in long skirts, white blouses,

tucks and gathers cinched tight as corsets.

We inherited their piano, paintings, books and rings.

I search photos to find the one my daughter resembles.

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