by Irene Livingston

The dress is long and satin-blue,
luxurious (for half-price sale).
Beth and I have cruised the bargain stores,
each pouncing on our bit of finery,
each planning for the dance. 

Even Dad approves, a novelty for me,
a girl who craves his praise.
Carefully, I’ve ironed out the wrinkles.

School is no recess from watchful Father,
stern staff member; boys shy away
like nervous colts. Amazing I’m invited
to this dance at all, let alone by
handsome Charley, stallion of the hallways.

I’ve only just begun to bloom, erupt
in color now that Dad’s resigned himself
to paint, like lipstick, powder, rouge.

Oh, I’m a rose, a peony,
no more the pale wallflower.
But Charley’s been— has played in
regions I would not know how to dream.

Father’s chaperone tonight.
I check around; he’s busy off somewhere.

Louis Armstrong’s pouring slow
like sand over silken horn,
drums barely caressed.
I found my thrill—
hand discreetly roams,
Higher than the moon we’ll go—
breath warm against my ear,
Come climb the hill with me, Baby—
I lean into solid wool arousal.                            >                                                                                 

Half time. We step outside.
So casual, we stroll
toward Charley’s derelict Ford.
Inside, we fall together. Lips, tongue.
Breathing, breathing. He grinds atop
the satin dress, moaning, kissing.
I drown in after-shave and young-man smell.                            


I gasp. We must go back! I borrow
Charley’s comb, rake my tangled hair.
We topple from the humid car,
blue dress a sea of wrinkles. Oh no!
Everyone will notice! Father!
I smooth and smooth, the sea still rough.

We steal back to dim-lit grotto,
into thumping beat of jive. In a corner
sits my Dad, spellbound by Annie May,
blond bombshell, adored by all the boys.

He doesn’t even see me.

The music screams on.
Cave-people gyrate, enthralled, oblivious.

Books by Irene Livingston:



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