a life in handbags.
There is the square straw bag with the dark brown straps
and shiny gold clasps
except those broke on the second day she used it
but THEY say you needed to have a white or straw bag
after Memorial Day
and far be it from Mom to ignore THEM.
There is the black faux-leather shoulder bag
one so big, dad accused her of carrying murder victims
around the grocery store in it
and asked if there was a pocket for a Sharpie
and blank toe-tags.
There is the one that my cousin made–
she made one for all the women/girls in the family
she was crafty that way–a denim bag
made from the body of worn Levis jeans.
with straps macrame-d with brightly colored rope.
Mom thought it was a waste of expensive pants.
There was the sleek silver clutch
She purchased it for the Policeman’s Ball all those years ago
the one she didn’t actually go to
she was having a bad body day and didn’t like her dress after all.
We girls loved playing dress-up
with the clutch and the beleaguered dress.
There was the canvas fanny pack
that was never worn on the fanny, but instead
on the front, like every other American tourist
and Mom took it on her Alaskan cruise
and joked about how all her friends
had the same pack
and that Walmart should sell them in more colors
so they can tell them apart
in the dark cruise ship casino.
It was another black one she took to the hospital
the last time
big enough for her wallet
a pack of cigarettes
(she didn’t smoke anymore, honest,
but she needed them in the restroom)
I don’t know what they did with it
when she left the regular room and went to ICU.
for all I know, it’s still sitting there on the bedside table
all these years later.