Christmas cards

My mother the artist's were Not To Touch, Only Watch; and we hunched By her desk or over her chair To see the pencil rough out a first Rustic house, and the brushes begin to snow In pastel winter twilights of lilac and rose. Earning ten cents a hand-painted card, She was making enough for Christmas: For us, five dimes apiece to buy Something for everyone: a coloring book, Paper-dolls to cut out, a box Of crayons, a gold bar for the broad tie My father wore on his street-car As motorman, for her a pin dish Made in Japan. For her, nothing fine As bone china, but she kept it lifelong; Scratched by brooches, its faint flowers In lilac and rose hold the Christmas cards That still bind us together, remind us Of her at her piecework, her dime's worth Of painting like pin dishes, humbly unsigned.

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