The unticked box that asks for a baby’s race. The blank birth certificate, filled in a rush the night before the legal deadline. The name the man can never pronounce right up until the moment he leaves. The lace trim of her bonnet for when the scurf dapples the moving place in her head.
The fresh skin that quietly forms beneath the smallpox scab and fully healed bears the same pattern of injury. The iridescence of seashells she glued on her treasure box which appeared magical. Press-stud earrings made to fit in a piercing gun, unused.
The nacre glimmer of fingernail clippings the woman will never put in the bin like other folks. The jute bag filled with curls. The memory of how it gives underneath his elbow, as he rolls onto her side of the mattress.
It’s only from the hairbrush.
Saved to stuff the pillow for when I’m buried, the woman says.
The bland sneers of the ancient portraits she dusts. The contempt she feels emanate from the of oils which the Grand Marshalls Leclerc, de Lattre de Tassigny, Juin, and Koenig, are made. The silver spoon the woman steals from her employer. The uniform boots it pays for.
The swallow she ‘saves’ from the warm foehn wind. It dies without ever seeing cerulean waters. The smell it leaves is reminiscent of the second-hand wool coat she wears for years.
The no-teeth smile she wears in photographs after the man comes back from the desert campaign. That’s the smile the woman brings out for strangers and puts away with the used serving glasses.
The man’S rapid cycling moods. The hollow sound, as she taps, a flurry of fingers against her breast when the man leaves again. The shiny weight of the hand-delivered medal.
Surely gilt, the daughter says before the lifted lid of the trunk crashes down on her hand. ´
The car engine as it turns over.
The fine dust covers all through the locked-up house. The daughter’s hand goes on seeing the cracked and peeling kitchen surfaces.
A cheap plastic ballpoint pen printed with the 100 year anniversary of an occasion she knows nothing about. A silver ten Deutschmark commemorative coin. coin. Part of an earring. A hand-painted blue ceramic tile, #277 on the reverse side.
The box robust at first glance, until blackened hinges, lift from faux leather. The rusted pin, metal jagged as her tone. The hinge detached, the box itself empty.
The magazine stand, years later in front of the Tour Eiffel. The silver five-pointed star enamelled in white, suspended from a moiré ribbon the imperial red, of a fresh wound, the tricolour standard of the Republic.