The Curse of the Purse

I couldn't find the aspirin in my purse tumbled mess, over-crowded business papers, eye glasses, tampons, pads, notes, sanitary napkin, family photos, licenses to fish or drive and I remembered
 my mother died
  because 
 my father 
  could not
  find
her nitroglycerin tablets 
 buried in her 
 Woman's Life
 Burden.  Her Purse.
A man lost in a woman's landscape
 totally helpless
when faced with the
 quintentially female
  terrain
symbolized by 
  a purse.
When he died
 almost two years
later
I was given
 her pedestrian effects
 such as her daily purse
  A shrine of 
   crumpled tissues
   lipstick kissed
   an old habit of hers
   lint
   the occasional paper clip.

I peered into
  the purse
 coming to terms
 with my mother
 who she was
  scattered
  hurried
  harried
A grocery list
  with numbers
  scribbled
  on the back
 as proof to her old-fashioned
  husband where
 she had spent “his” money
  all added
  neatly
  accurately
numbers at random
 as living and dying
  can be.

I found
  lost in the torn lining
  of the purse
  the tablets of nitroglycerin. 

Rhea Côté Robbins

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