Annette Cooper: “The Red Crochet Skirt” from Oct 2000

The Red Crochet Skirt

When I found
the faded photograph
of me
taken forty-something
years ago
wearing the red
crocheted skirt,
I remembered
the balls of red yarn
bought one a time
from Newberry’s Five and Dime.

I remember
the evenings, watching
that flashing silver hook
pulling yards of string
through endless tiny loops,
forming row upon row
of red lace,
and you holding
it up to my thin
ten-year-old body,
until it fit perfectly.

You made me put it on
with a white cotton,
puffy sleeved blouse,
white shoes and socks,
and paraded me
around to the neighbors
who oohed and aahed
to your satisfaction.
Then you stood me
in front of our apartment
and took the photograph
of me
holding it out
to the sides
like I was about
to take a bow,
with the best smile
I could afford.
I didn’t want you
to know
I didn’t like the skirt.

I wore it to school once
and a boy asked me
why I was wearing a doily,
and I hated you
for working
so long and hard
on it.

The red skirt
hung in my closet
and when it
I didn’t ask,
nor did I
ever tell you,
I didn’t like it
and I hope
you never knew,
but how
could you not?