The Best Literary Writing About Mothers and Motherhood
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Bespoke by Jeanne Blake

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He buzzes me in, the stairwell narrow.
His shop is filled always, holiday or not,
with clients and clever women,
an eagle’s nest from which he views the world below—
“Bespoke Clothier” gilded on the plate-glass window.
The room is tight and beautiful, a womb
of neatly stacked swatches, samples, imported silks,
exotic fringes, all impeccably sorted, reflected,
re-reflected in the full-length mirrors.
I fold my mind into a perfect square
and slip my doubts between his wooly promises.

I dream about the stairs,
on each step a gift: a pretty box, bouquet,
framed photo, scented letter, a poem.
And he earns them, he does!
If I’m lucky and quick I get him all to myself.
He wraps in his arms as if
I am the only one and as we kiss
something old and very deep cracks open.
He fixes me with his gray-brown eyes,
his silky, moist, foaming voice washing over me
as my feet puddle on the Persian carpet.

Then someone else buzzes,
and without commitment or plans made
I stumble back downstairs and out,
still dizzy with his deep, rich whisper in my ear.
Stunned and flushed I stand on the sidewalk,
stung with the sudden memory of my divorce—
knowing that nothing is real, once more.


Jeanne E. Blake is a botanical artist and poet. She moved to New York City in 2001 to study at The New York Botanical Garden and to take classes at the 92nd Street Y.

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