chocolate is a verb

colors, flavors, whims and other growing things

deciphering Dorothy…

winter 1940sWith my magnifying glass, I gaze into the past, trying to turn the small photograph into a crystal ball.

It’s a sunny winter day, perhaps in Milwaukee. She’s seated carefully, right on the edge of a large suitcase. Her lover is standing behind her at her right, a heavy, fleece-lined coat draped over his arm, bow-tie, v-necked cashmere sweater, hat, glasses, smile. His father stands at her left, suede jacket, gloves, light-colored hat with a wide, dark band. They’re both pressing in toward her.

A scooped, netted hat is angled dramatically over her forehead, shading one eye, her hair full and dark behind her ears. Earrings are bright spots, exclamation points, to the left and right of her radiant, lipsticked smile. She’s wearing a luscious fox fur jacket, shoulders padded and square. Her light, narrow skirt is drawn up a bit to show her knees and on her lap one black suede glove clutches her black purse. Her left hand is raised a few inches off her lap, her arm tucked between her body and the older man’s; maybe he was holding her elbow to steady her on the precarious seat.

Her stockinged legs are angled, glamorous, one foot slightly behind the other, high black heels on her feet. A dark hatbox sits on the ground nearby. The photographer’s shadow falls on the man’s legs, which only seems to highlight the bright sleekness of her own. Is she arriving? Are they departing? She has known these men all her life; what is being celebrated in the photograph?

Sometime later, their two families separated the lovers. But I can see that in this pinnacle moment she feels beautiful and loved, elegant and desirable. And for all the rest of her life she would try to find that smiling woman, lean toward the memory, glinting in her past, a lost jewel.

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