Daryl Jones: “My Mother’s Purse”


Always the balled-up Kleenex, lipstick-smeared,

came out first, followed by the unclasped billfold,

swollen open like a plastic fan with snapshots

of our sunny lives—my father, shirtsleeves rolled up

to his biceps, pipe jutting from the corner of his mouth,

black hair wavy and shiny, or the three of us, him

in a double-breasted suit, pinstripe, with broad lapels,

her in a summer dress and wide-brimmed floppy hat,

like a Forties movie star, and me in a sailor suit,

short pants, holding her hand and squinting—then

the small pink hairbrush, frazzled with golden hairs,

and the metal compact that snapped closed with a click,

and sometimes a little red box of Sen-Sen, perfuming

the air, or if not Sen-Sen a green unraveled pack

of Doublemint, or at least a mouthwatering

loose stick or two, and at the bottom a tube

of Revlon lipstick, some coins and streetcar tokens,

paper clips, ticket stubs, the telltale tiny flakes

of tobacco, torn scraps of foil, everything but the key.

Daryl Jones is the author of Someone Going Home Late, which won the Natalie Ornish Poetry Award from the Texas Institute of Letters.  His poems have appeared in Gettysburg Review, New Ohio Review, Poet Lore, and Southern Review.

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