used to be advertised
in a weekly magazine
my parents subscribed to
when I was a girl.
They were meant to hold
tablecloths, sheets, guest towels,
placed neatly, sprinkled with dried lavender,
among the linen folds in the chest
which was routinely shown in the ads, I believe,
at the foot of a white, dotted-swiss, canopied bed.
I think there were matching window curtains,
bouffant skirts on dressing tables,
cozy window seats,
and vases of roses on available surfaces.
The hope chest could double as a seat during the day,
I think the ad pointed out,
serve as an extra, temporary,
place to hide presents, or to keep blankets,
until it was needed to store linens for the future household.
At night the future bride could lay
her neatly folded bedspread on it,
casually toss her bathrobe over it
like a model with a fur in a fashion show.
I felt incomplete without this tiny dowry,
this box of dreams, this place to toss a robe.
The girls in the ads gleamed with joy,
so glad when they got engaged,
and their grooms, I seem to remember,
glistened with evident ecstasy,
apparently beaming because they had chosen someone so wise,
with the foresight to have a cache
of lavender-scented linen,
a treasure chest of tablecloths and guest towels.
They were ready to have company,
relieved, as I would never be,
that they didn’t have to start from scratch.
by Liz Southwood