Pearls and lipstick on a dresser: A poem

Pearls on table
Pixabay/Creative Commons

Beloved wife, buried a few hours back. An old man sitting hunched up in a chair.

His wife liked pearls. He had first seen her at the county fair. Two young kids riding on the Ferris wheel. How the pearls gleamed as they lay on the dresser. Her hair had gleamed. His back hurt; the chair creaked.

Have to move — something to do with pearls. Ah, what is it, don’t know — just forget. Alzheimer’s? He was a young boy running in the fields.

“Her hair had gleamed. His back hurt; the chair creaked.”

Silver light bounced off the translucent globes. Silk — her hair was soft — now only the pearls rest on the soft silk scarf. The lipstick, hers. She did not need it. Sailing on the Greenpeace ship. They were protesting the French nuclear testing near Tahiti. The scarf — pure silk — his wife liked silk. Maybe she would like chocolate. Would she like chocolate from the fair? No, dentures had replaced all her real teeth, and all his too. He smiles at the thought. She won’t want chocolate, only pearls. Perhaps some lipstick. But she already has lipstick — there on the dresser. More pearls — maybe peacock pearls from the South Seas.

Ireland, Ireland, across the seas. The old man was once from Ireland. A favorite Shetland pony and pearls — there were lots of fairs in Ireland and lots of ponies. Ah, ponies! Had he meant to say Ireland — maybe it was Poland. Were there ponies in Poland? The pearls were from Ireland surely. No, the pearls were from Tahiti. Were they real? Had he been cheated? He had brought them from a pearl diver.

The wind was making the chair creak. Something had happened just a few hours back. What was it? Mind drifts into empty space. The gleam of pearls. Angels call. His wife’s image on the pearl. “Beloved, I know you love pearls. Now the pearls are wearing you.” An angel in the pearls.

“But his wife had promised that they would begin their travels to the Pacific.”

The fair had been grand. There was a Ferris wheel — he was sure of it. Was his son supposed to visit — he wasn’t sure of it. But his wife had promised that they would begin their travels to the Pacific. They had to get ready for the airport. Where are the tickets? Folks traveled at 90. “Don’t forget your pearls. You look pretty in them.”

There were other rides at the fair. She had looked so pretty that day, hair gleaming like pearls. Maybe his pony was there. His pony needed food — maybe it would like a carrot. There were carrots in the fridge. His grandson liked carrots. The ponies would have to wait. It had rained at the funeral. But it had been sunny at the fair. The lipstick was not from the fair. Maybe they would visit the coast and see the caves. “It’s windy and we will need jackets.” Need to call the travel agent.

Stairs — wonder where they lead.. They gleamed and gleamed, brighter, brighter. He sees her face in the gleam. The angels call. The pain is getting insistent on his side. Angels — no, that’s just his wife. She is wearing the pearls. “Hello,” she beckons …

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