Romella Kitchens (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania)
The Prom Queens Of Efficacy
The gowns were from a used shop.
My father brought them home in a brown, paper grocery bag.
In the bottom of the bag was emptiness, a lack of recompense.
Purple, beige and odd orange.
I put them on one-by-one and stood in the bedroom mirror.
In the mirror, there was a better place.
Some island of understanding and liberality.
It was the evening of my senior prom and I was not allowed
to go, my father certain anyone, any boy who took me would
'hurt' me that night.
A handsome boy had asked me but, I was told to say, 'No.'
The other girls laughed and shamed me.
The dresses were some odd apology from my father.
I lay across the bed and wept into myself.
Deep through the halls of regret.
I never got my prom back, never knew what it was like
Dragons who breath fire and anger are everywhere.
They cast dark shadows at every door.
They measure themselves by whom and how they might
Remember, to resist those who will not let you do what you need
War against them.
Go to the prom, make the speech, take the job. Marry the man they hate
or the most important evening of your life will be taken from you and with
It the validation you have a place in this universe.
Continued in next section.
Cast a reflection of two lovers dancing on the river of life's
water and have it last past algae, catfish, cruise ships and
eons into forever.
In my dream, there is a boogie-down shape to life....
Aztec queens raging in the hip-hop sunlight.
I have a silver dress on in the dream.
You are silver, like the silver surfer.
You hold my hand, the car is snake fast down
into the city past the greedy buildings.
We end up at a dock.
You press me into your body.
Your tux is blue. You say, ' This is the prom
your father took from you. I am giving it back.'
The evening sky becomes this immense blue
You died a while back now.
But, you are still silver and laughing, the sweet scent of
Scotch on your breath and sweet redemption.
Your skin clean with soap.
My head against the hollow of your neck.
No regrets there. No pain.
Continued in section 3. Directly below
For Doreen And The Nostalgic
A while after prom, you meet me on a hill in Wilkensburg and tell me
you may be pregnant.
The boy who took you to prom not wishing anything to do with it.
You had never been on a date before prom...
Never had a boy apply pressure to you for his needs, what he wanted.
5 months later you met me at the same hill again and told me how your
parents had threatened to throw you out...
How they would not let you have food if they were angry with you.
The tears flowed down your cheeks as you said you loved them and needed them
So badly. I held you. I sorrowed with you. I told you I loved your whole family and you.
And, I thought about your tears, your sorrow and the love of parents turned
hard due to difficult circumstance.
I thought about my prom dresses, never used and the blessing their sterility may
The blessing of the intrusive father.
In the complicated situation, forgive everything and everyone.
Then, start out again with those who have done the same and acknowledge it.
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