Published in First Awakening: An Anthology of Prose and Poetry by Clara Challoner Walker and Janet Dean.

My mother’s handbag

The black torn leather
smells like nicotine and
shopping receipts

she clutched it next to her body
while it hung off one shoulder.
I’d watch it swing stiffly by her side

heavy, with addresses and letters,
A wallet full of loyalty she never used
And a pack of player’s lights

and keys,
to the unlocked house, the car –
keys to the locks I could never find.