Charlotte Matthews

December 7, 1941

When the war came over the radio,
my mother, the youngest and at home,
heard the single words like trinkets
to collect, buttons portioned in flowered boxes,
and loved some, their feel on her tongue.
She must have heard the Sunday announcer
and thought it was the same as always,
the brief news. But then she must have understood
something in his voice, how he spoke more clearly.
Maybe her aunt kept the radio on for too long
and quietly set down her mending.
Or maybe she simply wondered
about the names, how they sounded.
Whatever it was, she held to the word
proudly naming her puppet Pearl.
Her father, hearing this, slapped her hard.

Charlotte Matthews
December 7, 1941 first appeared in Sou’wester, Volume 30, Number 2.