My Picture, Four Years Old

 I have no memory of posing for the photographer,
but I recognize that face
from the mirror my mother held up to me.
I never thought about being pretty,
but I knew who I was.
My small hands memorized
the suede-like softness of those gloves I’m holding.
The rustling crinoline under my high skirt
made my thighs itch. Coded into that pose
are memories of scratchy washcloths and wet combs,
the fragrance of April Showers bath powder
dusted from a green box sprinkled with buds.
The patent-leather shoes slapped the linoleum
when I ran, and I never minded
taking off those careful, pretty clothes
to be my real self again.

Prompt source: For my birthday, my mother surprised me with a small quilt hanging that features the photo this poem describes (see below and my mother’s blog post about making the quilt). At 58, I’m surprised how present I feel in that girl in the photo. Physical changes separate us, but at heart and in spirit we’re one, and I remember.

My mother remembers the dress in the photo as pale aqua cotton with white flocking. I’ve always thought of my birthday month in shades of blue, so the color choices for this quilt are startlingly appropriate.
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4 Responses to My Picture, Four Years Old

  1. elizabeth says:

    What a lovely gift; the quilt hanging. Appreciate your mothers blog too.

    • NancyB says:

      Thank you so much! I read over your blog and you have a fascinating range of subjects. I’m intrigued by your book recommendations, and I love your discussions of tea. I’ll be stopping by again!

  2. Susan says:

    What a lovely memory your poem describes, scratchiness and all. You are my younger sister’s age, she was born in 1953, so close. I remember those scratchy slips, but I rebelled as soon as possible. =) Memory is a funny thing. A certain scent can bring back a flood of memories!

    • NancyB says:

      Would you believe I got into clogging in my twenties and joined a group that decided to wear square dance crinolines as part of the women’s costumes? I was right back to itchiness.

      So sorry Mom and I didn’t get to meet you when you were in Cincinnati. Mom talks about your blog all the time!

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