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Cleaning Out Mother's Bedroom

By Charlotte Friedman

Before, I imagined Fifth Avenue

furs in her closet, Ferragamo’s of sensible height.

I thought cream—Erno Laszlo, squarish white

jar on the dresser, Yves Saint Laurent

in a bottle, striped blue and black.

In the drawers, there’d be stockings

sheer enough to snag & thin-strapped slips,

silk camis. Surely, there’d be

sophistication, a bookmarked stack—

Sontag, Atwood & Bishop, like prayer books.

Who knows where I got

those ideas, why they signified

“mother” to me. My wish, not hers.

What I find—fox wrap,

little jaw biting its tail.

A red leather box stamped

Cartier but instead of a ring,

an Oreo cookie wedged in

the velvet. Rancid perfume, heaps

of papers and mail, sliding

from piles on the floor.

And everywhere the evidence

of moths. Silvery trails

dry bodies, flurries

of pale wings.

trailing-off (Jake photo).jpg

About the Author

Charlotte M. Friedman is a writer, poet, translator and teacher who grew up in the Pacific Northwest and now lives in Princeton, New Jersey. She received her MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts and her MSc in Narrative Medicine from Columbia University, where she taught in the English Department for ten years. Her nonfiction book, The Girl Pages, was published by Hyperion, and her poetry in journals such as Connecticut River Review, Intima and Waterwheel Review, which nominated “Alams for Cleaning Out the Painter’s House” for a Pushcart Prize. Her translations of Ch’ol poetry (with Carol Rose Little) have been published in Latin American Literature Today, World Literature Today, Exchanges, North Dakota Quarterly and The Arkansas International.

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