Sabine saves small items that are fragile
and breakable, a hand-painted china
jewelry dish with faint wisteria blossoms
daubed by her great grandmother Elsie,
an eyeliner-thin border painted in gold
around the scalloped rim.

She kept hold of a one-inch porcelain
lady’s head from the 1950s with a white fur
hat and a delicately glued pearl
headband. It’s true that we almost lost
her — more than once — but this chachki
was easy to keep track of, she could tuck it
into her foldable gold Lady Buxton coin purse.

When she lived under a bridge.
When she flunked out of treatment.
When she split town in a dilapidated
Econoline with no muffler.
When she od’d and they shot her
desperately with Naloxone.
When she signed into the state
psychiatric hospital. 

I can’t croon you a happily-ever-after
tune. I kicked her out and opened
the door for her to come back —
more than once. After the last stint
she surrendered and maybe
it was enough. Almost three
years with no slips.  She started
a collection of antique buttons
in an old popcorn tin. It is flowing
over with specimens — Bakelite,
glass, mother-of-pearl, leather,
velvet-covered, china and bone.