Cobalt Blue

It must have been during a long, harsh winter, when skies were low upon the earth in ashy brightness, the dissembling minuano winds gathered strength over the flat pampas, the more viciously to sweep into the city on the river, that my mother found the time and mood to knit the dress, pictured front and back in the photograph I hold between my fingers. She had turned her back to the camera, faced the wall mirror, and had smiled at my father, present behind the knowing lens. He had captured her supple figure, the iridescent mother-of-pearl buttons lined along her chest, her dimpled cheeks framing the smile of one who’d just finished a good, patient work of love.

The cobalt blue woolen yarn must have appealed to her that winter of exile, when there was nothing to do but shelter from the winds, search the newspapers for news of home, wait, and knit her masterpiece—this strangely sad, beautiful dress she wears in the photo and passed on to me towards the end of her life. I can read the deeper wait, unsettling, and, beneath it, the patience tinged by fear she couldn’t disguise, the hope she lived with. It is all there, in the tensile strength of the dress material, clearly, in her dreamy hooded eyes, tilted head—my mother’s yearning for a child that would set everything right, would sanctify their passion, justify their love, tie the husband-to-be—my father—to the home fires.

That grey winter day, in the apartment off Corrientes, as she posed for my father in her new blue dress, my mother waited, and dreamed of becoming my mother. I can foresee the long barren years, then, when she least expected, the child they had both prayed, longed for, for so long, the wedding just before the birth, and the good years that followed when she became what she had always meant to be—beloved wife and mother.

Tonight, imperfect object of her desire, I see her whole life, blunt and ordained, longer than she ever hoped for, when on a winter day like this—winds hissing on windows—she dreamed her perfect life, unaware of the gathering storms that the grey skies foretold. I see them written in the shadows of the room, the silver ghosts dancing on the mirror, framing the unsuspecting woman clad in blue—her best and worst years still to come.