Solo for a princess
by A. Garnett Weiss

When I was small
I’d slip into my mother’s deep closet
Inspect the high shelves, the bold, bare bulb, her
clothes hanging from wooden bars (unpainted)

             Everyday dresses in printed cotton
             Silk shirtwaists in the colours of prairie grasses
             Skirts sensibly below the knee

             Evening gowns in black, green, gentle lilac
             My favourite: her navy piqué
             Bare-backed, she looked movie-star
             Beautiful to me on summer nights

             A ruffled ottoman held
             her cache of party shoes
             I’d try on every pair
             Felt like Cinderella before midnight
             in highheels with crisscrossing
             straps of supple silver

I liked to watch her dress and dab perfume
in the crook of her elbows, behind her ears

She’d slide her long legs into silky stockings and
her feet into satin pumps that matched her gown
Put lipstick, a comb, some change in
a jeweled, velvet bag
Take my father’s arm
Blow me a kiss ‘goodnight’

and close the door
as I stood there, waving

I broke the mirror in that closet when I was six
I’d seen Snow White, the mirror on the wall
Believed my friend Dotty that
I’d have bad luck for seven years

Thought my thirteen year-old’s pimply skin
the legacy of those cruel shards

PHOTOGRAPH: The author at age two with her mother.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This poem, which had an early incarnation as JC Sulzenko’s, “Fairy Tales,” addresses the relationship between me as an only child and my Viennese mother who was often compared to Hedy Lamarr, though she was even more striking as a young woman than that film star of the 1930s-on. It explores admiration, longing, and my self-image as a child.           


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Poems by JC Sulzenko, now writing poetry as A. Garnett Weiss, have been featured on local and national radio and television, on-line and in anthologies and chapbooks. Her centos have won a number of awards. She has appeared often on behalf of the Ottawa International Writers Festival, which launched What My Grandma Means to Say, her play and her book about Alzheimer’s disease. Dear Tomato, a just published poetry anthology for children about food, features JC’s “In My Garden.”