What Women Look Like On the Inside


My mom always carried a large purse.
One year it was a black macramé number.
The next, brown pleather.
While she sat at the kitchen table paying bills
I would rummage through it.
Peppermints, a smattering of pennies,
bent bobby pins, tissues stamped with pink lipstick.
“This is what women look like on the inside,”
I remember thinking,
my five-year-old mind taking notes.

I am not five years old any more and my mom is now dead.
I have, however, taken many notes,
things I carry just below my skin.
The teenage boy who showed hidden parts
to us when we didn’t ask him to.
The time I lied to important people because I believed
I was saving them heartache.
There was the day I first heard Bach’s Air on a G String and
cried from all that beauty.
The curve of every peony that has ever grazed my cheek.
And there was that time I witnessed a miracle. Remember?
I think you were there, too.
So many sunrises and sunsets.
Full moons and high tides.

We carry so much.
All of us.
Burdens and bounty.
Glory and gall.
How are we strong enough?
How do we keep walking?

And then there is that morning that we wake up and
the sun burns orange and pink and
we sigh because we can hardly bear to hold it all.
All of it
The world, the music, the glory fall
pools in our laps and
we finger it all.
There are peppermints and pennies and
bobby pins and tissues stamped with pink lipstick.
And suddenly we remember.
And we take notes.