Monday, April 21, 2014

Poem a Day: 21

Prom 82

My dress was ivory and rose all the way to my neck.
My date, Josef, valedictorian, said he usually didn't

like girls too much-- they were silly and didn't care
for ideas, and that he hadn't planned to go to the prom,

but if I'd go with him, well, he'd change his mind.
Mom bought me a pair of pearl earrings that screwed

together behind my ears. Josef arrived exactly
on time. In the pictures Dad took of us, lined up

on the piano bench in our concrete house
at the top of a half-developed hill, I look dead

bored, my eyes sad, as if I'm waiting for
a metaphorical bullet to smash through my head

and put me out of my misery. At the dance hall,
a Mexican cover band jangled out a version of

"Funky Town," singing "Wone you take me to
fffffucky town," while a group of girls, drunk on

rum and each other, jumped sweaty in the middle
of the floor, exciting my jealousy like liquid metal

heating my veins, and I stood up, saying nothing,
to dance into their midst, while Josef watched rigid

from the table, hands folded, holding his back
ruler straight against the shouting and the music,

against the blur of the champagne he'd brought and
refused to drink, against the revelry and the end

of our high school careers. The room swam in my
head til I floated. Toward dawn I found myself kissing

and kissing a boy named Roland, grappling with him
in the hallway, then as the sun rose fell asleep,

alone, curled into my princess dress,
on Josef's hard back seat, and didn't dream.

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