Whenever I happen to think of my mother,
I also recall the small porcelain ballerina—
forever on point, lissome and graceful—
behind the glass door of the China closet.
The ballerina was the first woman I loved.
Fragile, enchanting, and tiny as a butterfly,
her beauty was always present in the house
as if she were a willowy spirit or a grace note
dimly ringing those days I sat with mother,
struggling for words to explain how I felt.
When I finally asked my mother about it—
I was a teen and suddenly full of questions—
she didn’t know what I was talking about.
“Ballerina?” I had to get up, tap on the glass,
the glass so thin it chimed softly as a bell.
The ballerina looked up at me. I saw again
the tiny flowers at her feet. I steadied myself.
“Oh that. Your father found her after the war.
It’s real Dresden porcelain. He always loved
little things like that, so hopelessly delicate.”