Always, while you slept,
we crept from our painted beds
and pattered
through the quiet house,
trailing the hems of our nightgowns
and annoying the watchful cats.

Now we sleep in a box in the attic,
the delicate among us
wrapped in paper.
The door is locked
and we do not have a key.

When the cold room
is lightened by the moon,
we sit on a broken cot
to read old letters we’ve mined
from Grandma’s trunk.

Sometimes we listen at the door
and hear your solemn murmurings,
but we do not comprehend
that far-off tongue.

We long for your hands and eyes,
for stories and buggy rides,
for cambric tea
on summer afternoons.

We ponder the photographs
of little girls
and the brother with his hammer.
We recall how Grandma sewed
our dresses and coats
with buttons and lace,
with careful, even seams.