Always wear nice underthings, she said,
whenever you leave the house
just in case … of terror attack.
Maybe she said don’t expose
your nice underthings to terrorists
because they will never leave the house.
Perhaps it was always wear
your terror exposed when
you leave your nice underthings at home.
Not lingerie (too fancy)
not panties or bra (too specific)
not underwear (what boys have).
By nice she meant clean, no stains,
no holes, no worn elastic.
By leave the house she meant
go anywhere besides the yard.
By just in case she meant don’t embarrass me
if you get taken by ambulance to the hospital
because you were in some accident
where they have to strip you to get to your wounds
and you are wearing a pair of underpants
held together by safety pins.
Because they will think
“what kind of mother do you have anyway,”
which will distract them from treating you,
then you will die because the nurses and doctors
could only focus on your ratty underpants,
your neglectful mother and the fact that no one ever
told you to wear nice underpants when you leave
the house and so there you are dead because
you didn’t take the time to put on nice underpants.
And what she really meant by that
was don’t live your life in fear.