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My sundress, with sprays of lilacs, and roses
has holes from my cat Thorny’s claws.
I’m not the seamstress my grandmother is.
So, I hoard, garden in the old work shirts,
wear shoes until grasses leak into their soles.

“Schmatta” my grandmother would yell.
“Take off that rag.” Under her plump fingers
a torn dress becomes a skirt, the ripped skirt
reborn an apron, the apron a valance,
the valance a potholder, the potholder a bean
bag animal. When the taffeta frog finally
leaks its lentils, she sighs:
“Time to fire it out.”

She says she dreams of the TRIANGLE fire.
Her friends falling from factory windows
in their worn dresses,
their schmattas trimmed with stray lace,
“Finished,” she says when she looks at photos
of her dead daughters, my mother in her picture
hat, her sister, the playwright, with a violet
in her lapel.

A thief for beauty, she boasts she plucked
ostrich feathers from each of her sister’s hats
to fashion a hat of her own. She plunders
geranium cuttings from her neighbors.

A hummingbird lands on my stolen geranium.
So many flowers. One the bluish pink of long
ago placemats. The summer I was ten, RITZ dye
and her tiny stitches snatched from death
my faded grade school jumper.

Perry’s work has appeared in Redbook, California Quarterly, Spillway, Third Wednesday, THEMA, The San Diego Poetry Annual (several volumes), The Magee Park Poets Anthology, Perigee: Literary Journal for the Arts, CWLJ, CWPJ, and many others.

In addition, Kate has written a successful PBS production, and penned episodes of Director Gary Marshall’s 1980′s, television show, “Laverne and Shirley.”

Her new collection of poetry, Santa Monica Disposal & Salvage published in March 2012, by Garden Oak Press and is available on Amazon.

A mother of three, she lives with her husband in one of the last rural pockets of San Diego County.

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