Not the friend who lets you weep and whine
when the world doesn’t work the way you want.

Not those made from scraps of every piece of cloth
that women had sewed, shaping pin-wheels
or stitching it to cotton batting for warmth
then used to decorate the homes of working families.

These comforters were the aprons covering the dresses
of housewives to protect them from the residue
of all the work they had to do.

Not the kind with ruffles on the edge like those worn
by maids in films of wealthy people in their mansions

these were full enough to hold the peas she shelled
while rocking in the double swing outside
or brimming with the ripened plums grown on trees
she planted when they moved from city streets

able to be snatched and hung away in closet beneath
the entry stairs after a quick swipe to hide from visitors
whatever dust had dared to settle on furniture nearby.

These were a shield for the wary child, the one
who was aware that not all monsters inhabit the night
but safety was only a grasp away.

It makes me wonder if the little boy walking in the mall
next to the carefully made-up woman, is comforted
by his single finger hooked in the pocket of her jeans.