by Ann Dickinson Sargent
My mean big sister told me,
“If you stood sideways and stuck out your tongue,
people would think you were a zipper!’
Well, this morning in my mirror, that too-tall,
crook-toothed kid with washboard chest,
looked in my eyes and vowed to be a spy;
my sister’s got a date tonight. I’m supposed to stay upstairs.
Later, hidden in the triangle of sofaback and wall….
dust, cobwebs, things that look like chocolate sprinkles
ornament my hair. I can only see
her saddle shoes, his loafers, in my narrow slot of view.
Light from the lamp glows on the scuffed wood floor;
scents of Shalimar and Old Spice
sift through stale old-couch miasma
as I wait for something interesting to happen.
They’re watching I Love Lucy on the tube.
Just as the laugh track soars,
The couch springs groan; maybe he’s going to kiss her….
Eeeeeeeeew! But instead, more dust rains down.
I sneeze! And Oh! Her screech and jumping-up and yelling-at
are worth the penalties. He sees the way she really is
and even though her chest is so unwashboardlike,
I think I’ve saved him.
Dear Linda, I wrote you a poem! Well, not exactly, but I was taking a month-long online poetry workshop in August, and one of the assignments was a family memory. This is fictionalized, but I do have a memory of having fantasized about doing such a thing. Last week, I taught a workshop to the Creative Writing Club at Polk State College. When I read this aloud (performed it), I got lots of laughs and big applause. So I hope you’re not too offended!
And, here is my reply…..
OH MY GOSH! What a GREAT birthday present!! Thank you, you great poet, you! I’m in touch with some of my high school friends and I’m going to ask them to circulate this! it is so FUNNY and brings us all right back to 1955…… which I’m reveling in now because I’m trying to teach our rock and roll dance, the Jitterbug. over here in Estonia and Russia, so they can complete (and win) in the international Boogie-Woogie contests, nowadays. So, I’m right back in high school, mentally, anyhow. Now, that my 79th birthday is tomorrow!
I do believe that “Revenge” is mostly fictionalized but, it was surely a neato fantasy that you must have indulged in, over and over. through those years that you had to live with a mean big sister. You did get a reprieve during my sophomore year (your 8th grade) when they sent me to Massachusetts to live with Grandmother Elsie. But then, I was back for my Jr & Sr year again to share a bed & bedroom with you and tease you about being a zipper. I really did say that….. probably more than once! That memory is accurate.