by Peggy Trojan
Two photos. One, Maria standing.
Her hat, large, beribboned,
black like her dress. One hand
on her sitting husband’s shoulder.
Looking past the camera lens to end of ribboned hats,
beginning of childbirths, long homestead days.
The second, with three children, five more coming.
Husband seated, holding the newest baby.
No hat, hair pulled tight. Not smiling.
Wearing black, buttoned to the neck.
Her little domed trunk
lined in pale flowers with removable tray,
with the round bar of French soap kept in the dark.
In the wrapper these hundred years,
still smelling like lavender.
A short piece of crochet,
dark wine, made from left over wool
used to knit mittens or scarf.
A note, “From Mother’s petticoat.”
Sixteen assorted buttons in a tiny glass jar.
Another note. “ From Mother’s dresses.”
A small remnant of pine,
Nov. 5, 1915, written in ink.
Salvage rescued by my mother, nine,
as she watched Mr. Bottila and Father make the coffin.
These few, and Finnish grit in my blood.
-from Talking Stick 2010