All the finishing by hand

Kissing, sex: pah! mother said to me one Saturday morning. You have to marvel at the speed of that mental leap. I had just told her I was going out that afternoon, to the movies, with this guy. I was a college sophomore but had just that year discovered: uniformly curved potato chips stacked in slender cylinders; height-changing platform sandals; and: jeans, how you could walk into a department store and pick them off a rack, try them on for size, often not even need to have anything altered or hemmed. All my life until then, she’d sewn all my clothes on the old Singer sewing machine with a treadle. All the finishing by hand— zippers, buttonholes, snaps, hook and eye closures. When I was ten and started menstruating, unsure of how to discuss what was happening to me, she went and got a book: On Becoming a Woman. There was a young brunette smiling on the cover, her lips the same shade as her cardigan and the apple out of which she was getting ready to take a bite. In the background, a bevy of whispering girls in poodle skirts, clutching schoolbooks. Inside, an illustrated flyleaf: the same girls in bridal wear on a cottage path, massive clots of flowers. Even then, I knew the underlying message: everything ripe for plucking, until beauty burns out and fragrance turns to rot.

 

In response to Via Negativa: Battlefield.

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