(taut jeans dancing)

An Anthology of Poetry about Being Young and Growing Up
Table Of Contents
Acknowledgments & Links



Peggy Shumaker

Before you left for the Lucky Strike I ironed your outfit--straight black indestructible skirt, low-cut ruffles on the K-Mart blouse. I hated the chore as you must have the job-- toting beer to the leagues, Al Ball's Chevron, Addressograph-Multigraph. Once, I made you late. You came when I called, and held me, fought for me against some pure and adolescent pain. Most nights we couldn't afford it. You'd bring home the best of a bad lot to dance till they fell, the crashing bodies payment against some larger debt. I'd yell, then cry most school nights till exhaustion tucked you in. But one night my anger rose past double-edged blades in the back bathroom, and I uncapped the little white tube free from the Avon Lady, Furious Passion, my color, not yours, and wrote in virgin lipstick three words on the mirror, then opened the window and left. You held your lipstick smack against your mouth, one wide pull in each direction. You'd smear your lips against each other, then kiss a square of toilet paper, leaving always surprised, a mouth. Under the oleanders behind the public pool I waited for you to miss me. I knew you would yell I know you can hear me just like you used to when I was little and you said stay within hollering distance or else, and you did yell I know you can hear me, but I heard in your voice how much you did not know. When you left, desperate, to wake up my friends, I walked home up the arroyo, sure the punishment would be swift.

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