An unread book--
An unlit candle--
An unopened tube of hand cream--
An unworn necklace--
They were all gifts I'd given through the year
To my mother-in-law
Who printed my name neatly
On a piece of masking tape,
Then stuck that tape on the gifts
So I would get them back
In the event of her death.
Her daughter returned them all
To me last week.
I knew that not using my gifts
Was her way of honoring them.
A child of the Great Depression,
She was frugal, careful with resources,
Turning out lights when she left a room,
Running only as much water as needed,
Eating leftovers until they were gone.
She saved those things for me
Because they were precious.
Only I wish she had worn the necklace
Until the silver turned dark against her skin,
Opened the tube of hand cream and
Rubbed it all on her sun brown arms,
Lit the candle and watched its
Flames flicker until the wax
Melted into memory,
Opened the book and devoured
Each word as through it were chocolate.