Yermiyahu Ahron Taub
Having helped her sister prepare for a rendezvous with a suitor,
one among many dashing such,
quashing her unease over his beauty and their lack of chaperone,
Having selected for her dearest the gray frock and the rose shawl
and the bonnie bonnet, hours of hawing and hemming (literally),
coaxing and cajoling,
Until finally here, this silence,
although all of that was pleasurable too in a way,
she freely admits.
Well, this almost-silence,
for she can hear the delirium of their father,
long confined to his mysterious sickbed.
Having prepared the meals for tomorrow, checking again the icebox
for the cold cuts and salad, yes they are there, yes they will be enough,
Having set aside their father’s medicines per the doctor’s orders,
although secretly she wonders how matters would stand
if there were another doctor in town …
The word “charlatan” flits through her mind; she’s seen her share.
Having removed the work dress, hue rendered indeterminate
from months, then years,
of cooking and scrubbing and sweeping and best-forgotten activities,
Having donned the ironed white camisole, as if virginal,
with its flowered lace collar
salvaged from her mother’s sewing box still in the attic,
Until she sits before the mirrored stand also once their mother’s
and applies the array of creams to her still unlined face,
inhaling their scents—peach, pomegranate, persimmon (of all things)—
the gifts of the orchards that dispel the carriage just departed
in which a man’s large hands are now stealing her sister’s body
and the absence of hands over her own
Until she stretches in bed and opens the novel of manners,
Having abandoned the novels favored (at least until tonight) by her sister,
Until she scribbles observations for her reading group on the protagonist’s pluck,
Having revived from a decline in options (land speculation, a beau gone amuck),
Until she tickles its spine, clasps it against her breast, then closes its doors
against the illustration of a fate so different from her own.
©2012 This work is the property of the author.