Treasure Island

Marge Piercy

(March 31, 1936 / Detroit, Michigan)

Always Unsuitable


She wore little teeth of pearls around her neck.
They were grinning politely and evenly at me.
Unsuitable they smirked. It is true

I look a stuffed turkey in a suit. Breasts
too big for the silhouette. She knew
at once that we had sex, lots of it

as if I had strolled into her diningroom
in a dirty negligee smelling gamy
smelling fishy and sporting a strawberry

on my neck. I could never charm
the mothers, although the fathers ogled
me. I was exactly what mothers had warned

their sons against. I was quicksand
I was trouble in the afternoon. I was
the alley cat you don't bring home.

I was the dirty book you don't leave out
for your mother to see. I was the center-
fold you masturbate with then discard.

Where I came from, the nights I had wandered
and survived, scared them, and where
I would go they never imagined.

Ah, what you wanted for your sons
were little ladies hatched from the eggs
of pearls like pink and silver lizards

cool, well behaved and impervious
to desire and weather alike. Mostly
that's who they married and left.

Oh, mamas, I would have been your friend.
I would have cooked for you and held you.
I might have rattled the windows

of your sorry marriages, but I would
have loved you better than you know
how to love yourselves, bitter sisters.

Submitted: Friday, January 03, 2003

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Comments about this poem (Always Unsuitable by Marge Piercy )

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  • Colleen Courtney (5/18/2014 6:29:00 PM)

    Little ladies hatched from the eggs of pearls like pink and silver lizards! Who writes like this! So incredibly awesome! ! ! ! ! (Report) Reply

  • Bobbie Goggins (10/22/2005 8:40:00 AM)

    'little teeth of pearls'
    'grinning politely and evenly at me.'
    - Good imagery.

    This poem has a sweet, wistful twist and ends with the tragic 'bitter sisters.' (Report) Reply

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