Pleasing the Prom Queen, #231

I can see myself,
wandering
down the hall,
four people behind
the gaggle of girls
giggling
at whatever event
was unfolding
at lockers left,
right,
and in front of them,
the music of geese
or a broadway chorus
following behind them.
The hallway
like a highway
and the commute
from class
to class led
by the Beemers,
Rolls Royces
and outfits like metal rims
leather seats
like broomsticks
of witches
who looked down
their long crooked noses
at those of us
who didn’t fit,
who wouldn’t subscribe
to the tenants
of the religion
that was built up
around worship
of their expensive outfits,
their breasts,
their makeup
and their highnesses.

I can see myself,
willing minstrel
to that court,
jester
whose only purpose
was to trip
and fall in love
at the feet
of the wonders
and the mystics,
those chosen by God
to step down among us
and commit
heinous atrocities
against the better nature
of those
of us
who could not walk
on water, who were merely
the salt of the earth.

I can see myself
in the mirror
of that role now,
committing my life
to the service of others,
for the duty of women,
at the pleasure
of presidents
and heads of state. I,
who should have been
a soldier in the army,
with my willingness
to follow. I,
who should have been
in the navy
with my willingness
to go to sea,
paddle the longboats
so long as
I believe
the leader above me,
the coxswain in the bow
is an enlightened spirit. I,
who should have been
a Buddhist,
a monk,
or a Catholic,
kneeled
at the feet
of temples built
thousands of years ago
carving out
small figures
from soap
and pig fat
and mounds of clay. I,
who instead woke up
in a small, nowhere town
and mistook
adulation and full lips
for a divine presence,
who would follow
a pair of well toned legs
to the ends of the earth.

I can see myself
parched in the desert,
catching mirages
of moments
when the girl I longed for
looks down at my tatters
and found inside
a prince
or at least
a pauper
she could live with.
In the mornings
I would feed her
breakfast in bed,
and in the evenings
a rub down.
But, those shortcomings,
with me, she would never
have the riches,
nor the abs to climb
of one of the jocks
who went on to college
to party,
come home on weekends
and lie to her
about the girls
she knows he slept with.
And here,
in my adulthood, I,
who again have to
please the prom queen,
finding my way
to the front of the throngs
of people cowering
at her feet
and begging
for her mercy,
for the crumbs
of bread and sweat
falling off her back. I,
who have read
and learned
and know that, if I
were her best friend,
and she could hear it,
would do best
to tell her the things
said behind her back.
But, instead, I,
who must learn
to play a game
I’ve never been good at.
Like, for sure. Really.
Oh my god, Becky,
look at her butt.

I can see myself,
sandwiched between
the life I want
and what I must do
to get it, the lamentations
of a reluctant hero
holding poor cards
at a rich table. I,
who fold up the table
and carry it away.

I can see myself
looking back on myself,
anointed with the title
I swore I longed for
and all the rights
that come with it,
sick at myself
in the mirror for what
I did to get it.
Sad truth, subtle truth,
that we are still stuck
in tenth grade
and the prom queen
still commands
the respect or fear
of those who care
about looks first,
and greatness only
by association, those
who voted twice
for the frat boy
in the white house
and his frat boy friends.

I can see myself
against myself,
trying to hold on to
what should not have to be
sacrificed to rise up.
What I fear must be given up.
We sat once,
in study hall, me
reading over her notes
and offering a suggestion
or two
on verbiage,
on word choice
and sentence length,
on what big words
one should use
to best impress
which teacher,
gawking at her breasts.
For a moment she saw
my potential, my glory,
thanked me,
kissed me
on the cheek.
But, that love,
as all her love,
was pitiful
and short lived,
soon forgotten.

I can see myself,
wandering down the hall
four people behind
the gaggle of girls
giggling at whatever
event was unfolding
at lockers
left, right
and in front of them.
I can see myself
hating myself
for hating them.

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A day is not done, until it's filled with words.

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