As a girl my mother wore giant bows in her curly hair
that somehow stood right up on her head.
There she is, in photo after photo, next to my aunt
whose hair was straight and fine, whose head was bowless.
Later came the big extravagant hats with broad brims,
my aunt favoring pillbox hats and small velvet affairs with
little nets that came down over her face. My mother
married my father, but Aunt Marie lived with her parents
and then just my grandmother her whole life
except for a short time she was in nursing school
when all the young women stayed in dormitories.
Once graduated, she seemed happy to return home
happy even to share the one bedroom of the small
apartment she and my grandmother rented
after my grandfather died. One bedroom.
My aunt’s inner life remains a mystery.
Was there really no romance in her, ever?
No longing? Did she truly never pine?
It appears anyway that she did not, a bafflement
to one who longed and pined and wished
and hoped for so many years, frittering away the
full, fertile hours on who when and why not.