Poetry/story

I always thought overture should play at the end

Like an ovation,

Standing!

The applause!

The bows!

While watching the crowd.

Like a petticoat

You’d think

Would be worn

Over the dress.

Coat

Right?

How misleading.

Not underneath.

The names they used

“Get your petticoat Bethany”

As pretentious as they seemed.

But

The layers

I’d retrieve

One

Two

Three

I loved the pinafore

On top

Pressed

And taken from the cedar

Chest

Packed

With the quilt my great grandmother made

The smell

30 years

Has always stayed

Still in my closet it remains

With a kerchief on my head

And make up on my young face

I beat on the drum

Unnoticed

Backstage

Before the overture played

The men wore painted lips

And long white wigs

I watched them

And the women they kissed

Not that of my mother

She was not being missed

As she donned her costume

Pin curling her wisps.

The songs I’d memorized

Everyone’s part

Ugh

Come on people

It’s an F sharp

The lead

The understudy

Practicing in the hall

I mouthed silently the words

As I blended with the wall

So full of themselves

So absorbed

In this world of pretend

Avoiding

The real world

These pathetic men

I peeked through the curtain

Nana would be there

As the lights flickered

On and off

The show about to begin

I saw her

And that Nana grin.

Encore

They stood

The show a success

I would go home

Pack up that year’s dress

In the cedar chest

Fairies, I was told

The production next.

And so went the years

From age 5 and on

Such a privilege

To be raised

On Gilbert and Sullivan

Song

They did it for me

Please

Could they be more wrong

I only did it to please Nana

And to play along

But the lessons

The variety

So well rounded I’d be

I can still sing you

Some phrases in Japanese!

The engineer

Paying for the perfect upbringing

Showing off his

Perfect

Family

The tunes of the past

Rumbling through my mind

As we are driving

When

I saw a woman

Sitting on her porch swing

Sitting across from an all African American

Cemetery.

Something I’d not known of

Or seen.

My neck craned

To try and see her face

Did she have my Nana’s grin

Did she have a cedar chest

And what lie within

I faced the front and threw myself

Back

Against the seat of my car

I’d never been to this part of town

Down this little road

With the government

Owned homes

The fences all broke

The porches were fallen

I’d been ignorant

Of such poverty

I myself had lived in my car

But more privileged

Far more

Than this scene.

And a sadness swept over me

Such segregation

And trapped in

Inequality

Did the woman on the swing

have a granddaughter like me?

I sat with this gut wrenching

Overpowering

Feeling

A questioning

Of how one little girl

Can break free.

I was raised with costumes

And overtures

But I was not born free

I was trapped in abuse

That was a white collar family

I escaped it

Eventually.

With an illness

And not one penny.

But here

This woman on the swing

Could she have been long ago

A child like me

Was she unable to ever

Leave

Is this where she wanted to be

These questions

Now haunt me

On how one escapes

A life you’re born into

Surrounded by rape

I wanted to sit with her

And hold her hand

Tell her about

The stupid petticoats

And the cedar chest

I liked to smell

Talk about how we saw heaven

And how we perceived hell.

I wanted to stop

And just swing

Holding her hand

We were different

But the same

Dominated

By

The evils

Of man

7 thoughts on “Poetry/story

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