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Her Mother Before

Mother and Daughter, 1950s

Before the days of the closed door — the downstairs parlor turned into a bedroom because her mother could not climb the stairs — and mostly disappeared and quiet behind the door —

except the one time when she came all the way out to the barn — in her tailored green bathrobe — still tall and statuesque — She came all the way out and climbed up the barn stairway, that no longer had a rail — propelled by her remaining fierce motherhood — she climbed to the remains of the second floor to yell her children down from their perilous hideaway — to underscore with her own risk, that they should never go up there again

Before the Catholic school and hospital in South Carolina — where the nurses were nuns that did not talk — mommy quiet in her bed — her daughters quiet also — before leaving her the last time

Before the linoleum hallways of little rooms with other girls in them like hers, with a window that looked out on the lawn — and on sunny days the leaf rakers leaning slowly on their rakes between raking — a window that looked out onto the past — onto the days before

When there was her mother — with her hair piled up in dark braids — wearing the stylish white sheath with tiny flecks of red thread in the fabric that made it look like it was sprinkled with red rice — there she was on her birthday having lobster— with a bib around her neck and her children laughing — and their father proud, holding his youngest daughter — who was sitting in awe, memorizing her beautiful mommy — the length of her fingers holding the fork

~Anne Bach