The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: Narrow Bridge by Robbi Nester

This selection, chosen by Guest Curator Stephanie Erdman, is from Narrow Bridge by Robbi Nester, released by Main Street Rag in 2019. 

The Mezuzah

I used to sit at my mother’s vanity
and primp before the glass, fingering her dainty
ornaments and peering at familiar strangers
smiling from their ornate frames.
I was an only child, confident in my position.
I knew the story of my parents’ lives,
marked before my birth and after.
No limits hampered me.
I could be anything I wished.

Then my fingers found a hidden drawer
tucked into the bottom of my mother’s jewelry box.
Triggering the latch, I saw a golden chain
coiled on the velvet lining of the drawer,
tiny likeness of a Torah scroll.
Inside, a scrap of prayer conferred protection
on the one who wore the charm, which had to be
a child, considering how miniscule this was.
I cupped the necklace in my palm and scrambled
down the stairs to ask my mother whose this was.
But when my mother saw the necklace,
her mouth opened and closed
without a sound. Then she said,
“For the baby boy we never had,”
told me these were gifts
for boys, but not for girls,
who didn’t get the parties
boys did at their birth.

Robbi Nester lives and writes in Southern California. She is the author of four published books of poems and editor of three anthologies. A retired college educator, she was elected in 2011 to the Academy of American Poets. Currently, she writes reviews and curates two poetry reading series as well as being an editorial consultant on the New Voices Project. Her poetry, reviews, and other writing appear widely in journals and anthologies.

Stephanie L. Erdman graduated Purdue University and received her master’s degree through Indiana University. Her first poetry collection, Pyrrhonic, is available through Dos Madres Press and her second collection, Sankhara, is upcoming from Urban Farmhouse Press. Stephanie describes her style as anything with music and novelty. Stephanie lives in Northwest Indiana and works as a professor of English, editor, and professional tutor. She lives in Benton Harbor, Michigan with her dog, cat, 18 chickens, a transient partner, and persistent impostor syndrome.


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