Such small buttons. Who’d have thought it?
And the chain so delicate, the cartoon keys,
so small for this tough woman with the skirt stretched straight
across her legs, the bloody tights, brick shoes.
The solid hips are right. The faded face.
I have effaced myself, she’d say, if so she spoke.
Rules are locked inside my chest and buttoned tight away
like breasts. What’s beneath the fabric
I refuse to know.
The vegetable vendor
“The vegetable vendor raised her face: she was my grandmother.”
Italo Calvino, Invisible Cities, p 75.
Raise your face
from the piles of aubergines,
the onions, garlic bulbs. Look up.
My grandmother the vegetable seller,
who sat by her table in the market
plaiting into ropes the long leaves of the onions,
looked up and in her eyes I saw
the dining table, six chairs,
the tall-boy, dresser, all in matching oak,
carved flowers, which went with her from her father’s
to her husband’s house.
She had not been born to selling fruit.
Someone was at fault.