why i never wore my mother’s pearls
BY JULIA KOLCHINSKY DASBACH
Because she wore cherries in her ears
instead of gold or stone or silver.
Because hers were heavier than fruit.
Because they made me want
milk we didn’t have. Because
of want. Because I couldn’t fit
the word, zhem-choog, in my mouth
and all that white reminded me too much
of teeth. Because we threw teeth
behind the stove so new ones
would grow in. Because sometimes
they didn’t. Because change is the only
certain beauty and strung-up
side by side, things ceased to be
as beautiful. Because holding
failed across continents and my mother’s
jewelry box stayed empty. Because leaving
meant she could only take one
necklace. Because the pearls, like teeth,
were left behind.