My Grandmother’s Purse

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.

 

purse

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About k2king

Francophile, writer, poet, and mother of Samoyeds
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