Mother had a business
though she will tell you
she’s never done anything,
never gone anywhere
and doesn’t count.
She’d go to all the garage sales,
buy stained and torn clothing
for a song.
In the evening hours
She had a magic way with laundry,
getting out the toughest stains
until that throwaway shirt or blouse
looked like new.
She’d hang the clothes on cord
strung across the patio.
My father would put out the signs –
“Garage Sale” –
and every weekend, the two of them kept store.
My mother would tell me about the woman
who took in foster kids
and bought armloads of clothes,
the woman who could not stand her sister,
the woman who bought hay for her horses but also bought
the bright red blouse
that used to have a grape stain down the front.
The garage sale was their recreation,
their social life,
and it made enough money for dinner out.
As Dad grew frail,
the garage sales ended.
The patio door was shut,
sheets draped atop the clothes,
the shoes, the jewelry,
the plaster cast handprint of a child.
Today my mother is a widow,
wishing she could once more
open her garage sale,
wishing my father would come back
to put up the signs.