“Dower Chest,” by Kara Van De Graf

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poetry by Kara Van De Graf  from MQR 53:3, Summer 2014

 

 

From the grandmother of my grandmother, it lives

at the footboard of the bed, passed down to me

by my own mother. As a child, I traced

the blonde-wood petals of flowers, the garden

 

etched with dark walnut vines. And below,

near a lip of scrollwork, two narrow drawers kept

in check by a key. It was only when I slid

the drawers from their runners that I noticed

 

the false front. There, she kept the photographs,

grouped together with butcher’s twine, the stack

of images that held her body naked and young.

When I found them, I couldn’t help but feel

 

I had stolen from her twice: first by breaching

what she had locked, and then by seeing

her with my eyes—the gray-tipped swells

of her breasts, the white shoulder hunching

 

round. I held my own body up to the mirror,

tried to strike, like an echo, the identical pose.

Then I did the same as any child who has found

more than they asked for; I kept one for my own.

 

 

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This excerpt is featured content from the

Summer 2014 issue

For ordering information or to find out more about the contents of this issue, click here.

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