Living in Greece I learned
why so many women wore black:
a year for parents, for a husband
forever, telling the neighbors take
care of me, I am weak with grief,
I have turned to ash inside.
The clothes made each day easier, everything
matched. You, like most New Yorkers,
hardly noticed how long I wore black
for my mother, black is what
everyone wears. But when you died,
my friends here found it morbid,
year after year a shadow of my former self.
You would have been the first to say
isn’t it time to stop now?
A smoky scarf, a lavender top,
my summer whites and finally, last fall,
Mom’s tailored brown tweed suit.
I had gained so much weight, it fit me.
Now I can wear sage and lime, I can imagine
this summer in pastels, but yellow, red
and coral hang in the closet, too painful.
I try, then put them back.
(Originally published in The Widows’ Handbook: Poetic Reflections on Grief and Survival- KSUP 2014)
Jacqueline Lapidus, co-editor of The Widows’ Handbook: Poetic Reflections on Grief and Survival (Kent State University Press), has lived in New York, Crete, Paris, Provincetown, and Boston. She has three published collections: Ready to Survive, Starting Over, and Ultimate Conspiracy (poetry), as well as poems and articles in many periodicals and anthologies.
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