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One Hundred Fifty Necklaces
by Lucille Lang Day

The day after my mother died, my dad
gave me her jade bracelet, diamond watch
and wedding ring. It would have been enough,
but every day for a week he brought more,
one hundred twenty-eight boxes in all–
big boxes, little boxes, shoe and shirt boxes–
enough to cover the bedroom floor.
One hundred fifty necklaces, twenty-six
bracelets, eleven rings, three watches,
fifty-two pendants and forty-nine pins.

There are too many necklaces to remember,
so I open boxes randomly to find
one to wear. No rubies or emeralds,
but it's all in good taste: silver, gold, garnet,
pearl, crystal, amethyst, cloisonné, jade.
I imagine Mom going through the boxes,
selecting one to wear to church, dinner
at Walker's Pie Shop with my father,
bingo at Alameda Naval Air Station,
or a visit to one of her doctors.

She couldn't remember what I majored in
or understand why I didn't remarry,
or why I write poetry. Still, she once told me
I was her best friend, and she always admired
the beige river stone beads I bought on sale
at Penney's for two dollars. "I've always
wanted a river stone necklace," she said
over lunch at Panini's. A red tumor
bulged under her chin. A better daughter
would have known what to do: take the damn
necklace off and slip it over her head.


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