My mother had patience for repetitive tasks -
ironing with Faultless Starch,
sanding out water rings
and taking out stitches.
We wore handmade clothes
because mother liked to sew.
She always said
"Pretty is as pretty does"
because a good mother doesn't
attract the attention of the gods,
much like a Chinese woman
who stands in a field and yells
"Bad rice, bad rice."
She used to say,
"Pixies pinch if the house is not clean
and tangled my hair so it couldn't be combed.
She should have explained
that no matter how hard we try
to break a habit, it's a weakness for life
and can come back stronger than before,
like the pattern on the wrong side
of a homemade rug.
Rebelling, I blanch corn in the dishwasher,
feed horses in antique dresser drawers,
and throw out cancelled Butterick patterns.
But we share the same hormones,
small breasts and speech patterns,
church, dinner on Sunday, and the guilt
for raising good daughters.
* * *
Deborah Quigley Smith has published poems in Melic Review, Long Pond Review, Sequoya Review, and Poetry Miscellany, as well as other print and online journals. She has an English degree from Harding University and currently lives with her husband in Quigley's Castle, in Eureka Springs, Arkansas. In addition to poetry, Debbie writes international thrillers, one of which was recently selected as a semi-finalist for a national prize. She volunteers in the Community Writing Program, mentoring students on plot and character.