There’s a pink box,
with a black satin ribbon.
The handkerchiefs are inside.
They’re winter-white and thick,
with paper smooth corners,
and my initials are stitched on.
These are far too fine
for the likes of me.
I cry softly into coffee
and wipe the tears onto my sleeve.
The thickness of the cotton and the
marble-sleek edges of the corners
remind me that my skin is far too rough
for the softness of their touch.
I cry for the pearls in my trinket box,
the ones that peel and lose their sheen,
and for the diamonds in my earrings,
which will never aspire to cut the glass.
There is mismatched silverware in the
kitchen, and the china’s made in China,
full of finespun cracks and fractures.
The sheets are thin, and
my eiderdown molts its feathers.
Yet, still I like to hide under them,
to pretend I’m more than this.
I believe that to be worthy
of pampered tears, I should know
which fork best spears the food.
I should understand the importance
of wine and never leave red-lip
kisses on crystal rims.
If I were to cry into those handkerchiefs,
I’d mourn the life I’ve never had.
There’d be wails for all the things
I could have been, and sobs for the
days that never were.
In the pretty, pink box,
the one with the black
satin ribbon, the linens
rest easy with my initials
tattooed in their skin, waiting
for a different life.
Despite the touch of my hopeful fingers,
these fingers with dirt crusted under the nails,
these handkerchiefs remain pure
and will never be soiled.