Choosing a Swimsuit

                                     for Nancy

Flecks of turquoise, magenta and purple
stir from the bottom of a drawer

filled with functional white gym socks
and practical navy and black hose.

I tug out the old Bobby Brooks swimsuit
to consider its fate one more time.

But again, I fold it and stash it
in the back of the drawer where bits

of color splash up to beckon memory.
And I see you gape at me and laugh

at a pool in Hot Springs, South Dakota,
ten years ago on a family vacation.

Two grown women, two sisters,
who see each other maybe once a year,

have bought the same gaudy pattern
in humdrum malls a thousand miles apart.

Together, we slip into warm, bubbling
water in our wild-hued swimsuits.

Years of matching winter coats, hand-me-
down uniforms, Christmas nightgowns,

Easter dresses and JC Penney saddle shoes
have fused our taste and style into one.

So I save this piece of nylon and Lycra
beneath the everyday folds of life

as a reminder of who we once were
and how much we hated dressing alike,

and how a day can hold its breath, dive
deep into memory and splash turquoise.

— Chaffin Journal, 2006

Well, we aren't dressed alike here. Nancy had just turned 2, and I was 3 years old.




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