D.L. Mayfield

living in the upside-down kingdom


today i put on a scarf that was given to me by a Somali woman in Minneapolis several years ago. I used to wear scarves all the time, but not this winter. this winter I have worn frazzled hats and frumpy coats and much loved sweatshirts. I have been in my head, not thinking too much about beauty. my scarves, the gauzy ones given to me by friends or bought at various stands in bazaars, hang in my closet, silent. reminding me of all the lives i’ve lived, how i used to think the scarves would somehow make me blend in with my friends.

they never did. but still, I put on an ornate one today, around my neck. it was the international day of women or something like that. just another ordinary day in our neighborhood. it is my luxury but also my intent to surround myself with women from countries which often splash the headlines of newspapers. today i wore a fancy scarf with red and orange and yellow and shiny gold thread and a woman came and stayed for english class, a woman I love but who never stays, who is busy with her three small children. but today she sat down and drank coffee and i taught her the colors of my scarf, i taught her the english word for “gold”, a privilege i do not take lightly. she showed me pictures on her cell phone of her dressed up in sparkly clothes, clothes she would never wear outside of her apartment, and we talked about the difference between glitter and gold and silver.

i remember all the women i have met along the way, so many of us loving shiny things, and i think this is important. i think we are looking for gold where we can find it, running it through our clothes, adorning our fingers, seeing it in the eyes of our neighbors. our lives our short and precious and we know this. so why not wear something sparkly, just for ourselves and for nobody else, just for the pleasure of reflecting the light.

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