I hope you will enjoy this performance, and my costume. I am a bit early, but this is the only night I shall be in town…

Green Chinese Dresser

In the middle of the night I stretch my arm

up to the top of the green Chinese dresser.
It’s too tall for a bedside table,
but I wanted it close.
My fingers skim the gouge in the smooth lacquer,
one in a list of crimes for which
my ex-husband
was held accountable
in the spring of 1993.
This chest used to hold
silken scarves and gloves,
fancy linens and tiny crystal perfume ampules,
boxes of fine gold jewelry.
My grandmother’s “special-occasion wear”
was perfect for my everyday visits.
After forty years, this dresser is used to me
and my no-longer-small fingers
as I pull the drawer open with a
silken sigh.
But it has changed.
The enigmatic coquette
holding a lotus blossom
has become a marketplace auntie,
holding a basket of bread and fruit.
Glamorous silks and kid gloves
gave way to everyday ephemera.
In these fragrant drawers
my grandmother’s scent lingers,
along with
a diaphragm, pantyhose,
wrinkled photos, receipts,
love letters, scotch tape,
spare buttons, sewing thread,
tiny scissors, nail clippers,
my favorite lotion,
pens, spare beads, warm socks,
and even, once,
a vibrator.
I feel around in the bottom drawer
pull out fuzzy socks.
Slipping them on my feet,
I curl into my warm bed
knowing that the green Chinese dresser
stands tall
close by in the dark.