Fine, I’ll show you, she said,
extracting a garment bag from her closet.
Inside, a perfectly white
formal dress you recognized
from the portrait of her sister in the hall.
Your closet never contained such a thing.
You really are a debutante, you said.
A belle, she corrected. Fucking absurd.
Mother just adores the little
white gloves. You marveled
at her precise articulation of crude syllables,
clarity gained from voice lessons.
You imagined her at the Belle Ball,
on the arm of a black tux. You knew
she’d wish he could be you.
Wouldn’t her mother
just adore that?
She pulled you to your feet, curtsied,
placed your hand on her waist.
You never waltzed before. Step.
Together. Laughing, Don’t lead.
You focused on your shoes. Step.
Together. Look at me. There,
see? Now you got it.
Knocking on her door was never easy.
Her mother wasn’t sure
what sort of girl you were.
She’d raise her eyebrows, peer over the thin
metal rims of her glasses, touch the cross
hanging at her chest. The dread
that woman would answer sat like
a stone in your mouth, threatened to choke you.
Your friend would fling open the door, hug you
with such lack of hesitation you’d forget to be afraid.
Thursdays you did calculus together,
side-by-side on an oversized couch.
She never asked if she could
slide her cold feet under your leg.
You tried your best to be warm.
She was brilliant and you were bright enough,
curious, at least, to know the how-much of things.
She’d lean so close as she compared your tiny, precise
numbers and symbols to the careful curves of her own.
You usually noticed the smells of fresh baking before
you saw her mother standing there, with a plate of cookies still
too hot to touch, two glasses of milk, a wide, unmoving smile.
Logen Cure is a poet and teacher. She is the author of three chapbooks: Still (Finishing Line Press 2015), Letters to Petrarch (Unicorn Press 2015), and In Keeping (Unicorn Press 2008). Her work also appears in Word Riot, Radar Poetry, IndieFeed: Performance Poetry, and elsewhere. She earned her MFA in Creative Writing from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. She lives in Texas with her wife. Learn more at www.logencure.com.