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“In the Locker Room at the Temple” by Darlene Young

First, in goes the coat and her oldest’s failure to get a job. With the black shoes go her husband’s sarcasm this morning; with her scarf goes her own. The blouse carries the lesson she hasn’t prepared, the dirty bathroom tile, and the dying tree in the backyard. Her teenager’s refusal to get up and all of those tardies hang from her skirt like tassels. Insidious, gathered in the folds of her half-slip with tentacles like clammy drier lint: all the ways she is a terrible mother.

Her white stockings, hope that there is another page, another day, a horizon somewhere, stay on her calves, enduring.

She stands a moment, shivering.

Then, silky slip washing down her like good enough. Dress of standing straight and facing forward. Slippers of small things, little graces, daily manna that can’t be hoarded but can be found unlooked for, just in time. She takes up her packet of God’s daughter and steps out into the light.

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