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Aunt Marie’s Inner Life

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.