I wrote a poem about a purse that I found among my grandmother’s things and brought it to accompany the poem at my thesis reading. That poem won third prize in the SWWIM Every Day poetry contest. The theme was “Poetry for Purses” in honor of Kate Spade and suicide prevention. I know that my grandmother would be proud that her purse inspired my writing, and that I have kept her purse.
Here’s the winning poem and her purse!
The Cable Car Purse
She rummaged through the cartons that
were stacked inside the family room,
unwrapping, sorting, tossing stuff
on messy piles of save or sell.
She found it with a crystal vase,
two sequined evening bags, and five
Saint Joseph statues underneath
the mildewed news from eighty-four,
the year they packed up Grandma’s things.
The wooden box’s hinges, latch,
and handle were of brass. It smelled
of musty basement and Guerlain
perfume. Faux jewels and beads were glued
onto the painted cable car––
a missing amber teardrop fixed
with a round blue replacement gem.
When she opened it, her puzzled
reflection looked back from inside
the mirrored lid. Her Grandma’s name
was printed in a shaky blue
along the edge; the purse empty,
except for two metal hair pins.
She saw a younger woman there,
the bag in hand at ample hips,
a trolley swaying over curves,
She heard the ringing bells, the voice
of someone clinging to a pole––
the fog, the fog. And nothing else.