Under a half-egg moon
I'm out with a 46-year-old dress
my mother hand-stitched for my sister Kath
to wear in my sister Ann's wedding —
rinsed clear of its accumulation of years
and freshly pressed, I let it float down
to a bed of deadnettles and bluebells
on the last April evening of the month.
It's chilly and I've not donned a sweater —
so I work quickly, the flash illuminating
a dark garden in bursts of surprise light.
I drag over a green metal chair
and position it in the unsteady earth,
climb warily up to a better vantage,
breathing my balance
until I'm just above the lace skirt
and pink-ribboned bodice.
I think of how my mother would disapprove
of her stitch-work tossed to foliage,
and how she'd tut-tut at my middle-aged self
perched in moonlight on a rickety chair.
What she doesn't know — gone these long years —
is that I handle this dress with a reverence
saved for relics — which this is.
Done, I gather up the rustling taffeta,
cradle it in my arms, leave satin trailing
in lemon balm, sweet woodruff —