Mother had a blouse. It was mauve
with puff-sleeves. Roped shoulders
with pads under. The collar Peter Pan.
The style of the forties. They stitched Devil’s
Ivies on the breasts like purple hearts.
Dark sequinned patterns on a plain torso,
sewn to please. Lines swamping, as if the maker
had something to say. Or may have failed
the first twists seamed, so overran them.
The blouse belonged to my grandmother,
who inherited it at sixteen, from her mother.
Because it did not survive, I bought myself one:
mauve, puff-sleeves. The collar Peter Pan,
like a rifle bird at dance. I altered it, V-necked,
glammed. My scaffolded consciousness,
imitating the hands that came before.
The domes on the cuffs too were my own doing.
I caught myself, strutting my mother’s walk,
first day I had it on. It runs in the family,
women with pretty faces,
warm smiles, curls on their circlets.
The poppies on their skins worn elegantly.
At night, I doffed the blouse, naked —
myself in the mirror, one eye shy,
counting the pleats on my skirt,
a man waiting on my bed.
His bust, like that of my grandfather’s,
His tongue poetic, like my father’s,
before mother had me.
Crystal pieces passed on,
the star-lights, on my ears.

“Blouse” from Palm Wine Tapper and The Boy at Jericho by Nithy Kasa. Copyright © 2022 by Nithy Kasa. Used by permission of the poet and Doire Press.