Literary Mama writing about the many faces of motherhood
Alterations

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For years the dress I sewed
fit flawlessly, wrapped her
in plush protection and comfortable
cascades of satin.

How it ballooned and billowed
whenever she twirled
like a sparkler lit
in white-laced laughter.

I thought I saw
it tuck a bit tighter to her teenage curves.
But I had left
a healthy seam allowance,

room to grow. And yet
these days, I can't pretend.
The fabric is faded. It binds in spots
whenever she makes a bold gesture.

She says it chafes her skin.
I try to smooth the wrinkles
under mothering hands,
but it just puckers more.

Some threads have pulled
under the strain.
Not ripped but frayed
in a way I can't mend

without the world noticing
my mistake. I stand by as she
seizes pins and needles
and cotton thread.

Without a pattern
she is suddenly her own
seamstress. I gather the
outgrown garment

to my face, breathe in
silky scents of
talcum, sky and puberty
and fold those years

into a tissue-lined box.
There is nothing left
to do but take up measuring
tape and scissors

and silently snip and stitch and hem
until in season
I fashion a brand new dress,
this time for me to wear.


Wendy H. Gill is an educational consultant and freelance writer. She is the mother of a 20-year-old daughter, Morgan, and a 17-year-old son, Taylor. Her poems have appeared in Iodine Poetry Journal and Main Street Rag. She has published essays in Writer’s Digest and Skirt! Magazine as well as in the following anthologies: Tis the Season (Novello Press), Hungry for Home (Novello Press), and On Air: Essays from Charlotte’s NPR Station, WFAE 90.7.


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