tree circles 1

By Donna Hilbert

I never wore white shoes
before Memorial Day
or suede in summer.
I crossed my legs
primly at the ankle,
wore a panty girdle
and a full-length slip,
no shadow of body
apparent through my dress.
I knew better than
to crackle gum,
or walk down the street
cigarette dangling
from my mouth,
knew better than
to pierce my ears,
like some common girl.
Still, his mother
rooted out the tell-tale
signs, traces of a family
line who worked for wages
in “mediocre” jobs.
The day after
we’d spent the night together
and got caught,
he came to my apartment
with a deck of cards
that he spread across
the kitchen table,
saying, Mother says
I have to teach you Bridge
so we’ll have something
in common.
He arranged the cards
in suits to demonstrate
their ranking,
clubs, diamonds, hearts, spades,
saying spades are the boss
trump, outrank everything,
always.

(from Transforming Matter, PEARL Editions, 2000)

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