Athena Kildegaard: "Evening Rite"



Years ago this was, almost half a century

(how long before we don't count any more)

I would walk from my bedroom (once a cook's)

past the kitchen stairs, around a corner

and enter my parents' bedroom where

I liked to watch my mother dress

for a night out.

                        Once her girdle was in place

and her hose latched by satin straps

that dangled from the white girdle, she'd

take up her mother's wood-handled brush

(a brush she once used to straighten up

my brother) and she'd bend over, the flesh

below her breasts rolling over the top of the girdle,

and she'd brush her hair in long strokes

from her nape across the back of her head

and forward right to the ends of the hair,

hair that spread black and shiny as water, and in winter

sparks would flash as she brushed, winter silk stars,

and if she was not in a hurry I could stand

beside her and take the brush and lead it

through her beautiful hair that was just like water.


Athena Kildegaard is the author of four books, most recently Ventriloquy (Tinderbox Editions). She teaches at the University of Minnesota, Morris.