— Barbara SaxtonOn the path from uncertainty
to my neighborhood Safeway, I braked
for a mother and daughter sashaying
through a crosswalk in twin magenta-striped dresses.
Half a century before, other drivers had waited
while Mother and I proudly strolled
hand in hand across elm-shaded streets, showing off
new matching seersucker shirtwaists. Thanks to the Depression, and marriage
to a man who insisted that women were
no good at anything, my mother
never drove; so we walked, mismatched twins,
laced fingers faintly scented
by the Aquamarine she applied
every night before bed. In summer,
our white strappy sandals clip-clopped
unison rhythms on the near-molten sidewalks.
In winter, four rubber galoshes
pounded parallel purposeful tracks in the snow. Those sounds, scents, impressions
have gone, but this daughter’s strong legs,
toughened by urban journeys, persist
with the sense that together we’d face
any terrors the streets held in store. Even now,
when navigating uncharted territories, I sometimes
still reach for her hand. As I watched the magic magenta-clad duo,
I longed to shout out: Sweet Girl, hold on tight!
In a heartbeat, that warmth and connection
may be broken forever. But I kept to my path,
a little less eager to arrive
somewhere no one would know me.