Stiffly pressed with starch and steam, the musty breath of the iron on sheets and brocade pleated to be hung gingerly. Silk embroidery, needles that scar that which is hard to hide, a call for the precise. Crimson droplets from a stuck thumb under the drum of the banging machine are caught in the seam of a bandage to prevent spoilage of purity, white lace and a trace of gleam. And I loved pearls. The deep sea that rolled sand into jewels in my hands, especially the gray. I was a princess in disguise before mirrors that played to make me look any size. The shape of perception in the reception room where light dangled from the tips of stars. Chandeliers that gleamed their crystal smiles in elegant beams. It was not the fashion magazines but the feel of pearl-dangled earrings, the way they kissed my cheek when I would speak and tilt my head.
Oh, the feel of silk taffeta on thighs, the cool air surprise of the sway of satin wrapping bare legs, the swish of chiffon on the throngs of hips, and a bodice that dips as it craves a lover’s wandering lips. She would bend and cast the fabric out, an ivory net for catching ever after yet. With a knowing trust she thrust the chalk in the shape of me, donning the shears with the revere of Creator, the maker of dreams was she, a seamstress and crowner of queens. Diamond tiara and flowing mane as the sequins train swept in a rush the golden hush of wool rugs that prickled my feet, bare beneath, nature’s pristine untamed.
All it seems, becomes the realm of dreams and memories that fade into pleasantries. These stories I stream, as I am coaxed to see, the relevance of elegance set free.
My grandmother worked in the rubber factory during the day. At night she made extra money sewing wedding dresses for war brides. Soldiers would send her parachute material. She would launder it and use the silks to make gowns. I learned to sew before I could read. She would sit me opposite the large Singer machines. It was like a dance the way she worked the pedals to adjust the speed. A slight movement of her fingers on the fabric could create gathers and pleats. I never truly appreciated her artistry. She could make any woman perceive herself to be beautiful. She was a hard woman who buried her pain in the classic, classy, and elegant although she grew up poor. Her mother was widowed with nine children during the Depression. They lived from an abundant garden. These stories that fade as people do until they catch a breath of quantum renewal. There is something humbling to be said for this singular moment as love rewrites the past with the soft etch of a felt-tipped pen.
© M.G. Iannucci 2018
Art:“I Love Budapest” by Emerico Imre Toth