By Leslie Traylor

In my mother's ancient travel trunk among the tatting lie
Letters written in her innocent long quiet voice.
Entangled stories, her wartime memoirs of a none too pure
Life before this life, blossom tales of a suitor's last touch.
Her enigmatic recounting, in her senility, unravels good,
Tantalizing tales. Astounded, I wonder, Is her heroine the same woman?

Tableaux of mother, to hear her tell, as a young single woman
on the town in a war-changed world, though intriguing, belie
her stony puritan facade. She remained chaste, she'd say, kept good
for married life. She, even to herself, is unrecognizable when her voice
wraps itself around an ardent love scene. Never made a fondling touch
in romance, she never moaned words of urgings, simple and pure.

Never, she'd say. Never have carnal fingers exploring love's pure
places? Her fraud badly hidden, another fiction from this wrinkled old woman.
Not her hands caressing a man, an urgent or lingering touch.
Lust in her fingerpads? Not this daughter's mother. A lie!
One that begot many untruths in many different voices.
One disillusionment after another, doled out slowly, for your own good.

As I listen to her rambling one afternoon as goods
were lovingly unearthed from the trunk, her face glowed a pure
bittersweet shade of rose, brief tears quaking in her voice.
Before my eyes she transformed into a princess, a demure woman.
Layer after layer her gnarled fingers straightened, as lie
after lie maintained. Cedar scent cloying sweet, damp as shut-in's touch.

Why do I listen to these stories again? To allow this false touch?
A clammy limp slap on my sensible face. More Blanche DuBois's too-good
to-be-trues. Mother's eyes insist, as my heritage, that the lie
be retold through the ages. I refuse to despoil my daughter with impure
deceits of yesteryear's glory. In the lacy dowry of the valiant young woman
into whom my daughter will grow, I stitch with a sincere voice.

Be passionate, and true to your own life, with a high-spirited voice
of your own fashion. There are no limits for those who touch
with fingers weaving knowledge of the heartbeat in you, Embrace woman-
hood and adore the body you move in. While affection is good,
Passion and intimacy are better, keeping your intentions pure.
With your heart and body as guide, dethrone the princess, let go the lie.

There is no triumph, Mother, in staying pure when all around is heartfelt touch.
My heritage in a woman’s genuine life rests in hope, wandering all avenues,
leaning toward good giving. Your story is not done, I hear your voice,
threads in our family’s cloth. Your love to my daughter I will carry, but
not the lie.

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