I put on my pearls

I was born in June.
I put on my pearls.
Inherited from my grandmother
She got them in Japan after the war
Told me stories of living in Kamakura
Of working with surgeons and being curt
An Army nurse with crooked fingers
Permanently bent from crochet hooks
Eventually sitting in Spain with her big-eyed dog
Wondering if things would change in her time.

I was born in June.
I put on my pearls.
Born to an October mother
Opals were bad luck for me, she’d say
A ploy to keep me from her jewelry box
That worked, obedient as I was.
She stitched politics into church tapestries
And hated the beloved teacher who
Scoffed that she would want to be anything
Other than a mother.
Eventually in hospice, breathing labored,
Heated monosyllables watching the news.

I was born in June.
I put on my pearls.
In January perhaps garnets are more accurate
But carry less weight.
I wish I could tell them.
I put on my pearls for them.

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