american beauty

My dress for prom was shiny satin, sweetheart neckline, of the deepest
fuschia. The saleslady wore a corsage of pins round her wrist
plucked from as she took in my waist
She deemed it American beauty through lips
pressed tight over the steel petals in her mouth.
I fell for the fancier name.
My shoes were dyed to match. Junior prom and I was bringing him.
But I had on the necklace you gave me, a synthetic stone hung
from the thinnest gold chain. I never found it pretty.
But it was enough to remember your face when I opened the box
that was enough to make me happy. So Christina borrowed my pearls
and they looked lovely on her. And I became cozy with regret.
Slipped away from his hand as it climbed higher along the back
of my thigh as we waited under an arbor, weighted with fake roses,
waiting for the flash to go off.
It wasn’t fair. I’d had no shame when we made out
in front of everyone on the ride here. The badness I’d been so intent
to erase was becoming a bigger, darker mess. My handiwork
only made things worse. I realized too late that I was in
over my head. I laughed it off when he told me
once the best time in his life had come and gone
he would start taking chances. I couldn’t truly respond,
fear took my voice away. Later as I drove he wouldn’t stop.
Kissing my face, my neck, buried himself in my shoulder
to nibble at a clavicle. I took my hand off the stick, pushed him back
and chided you can’t do that or we’ll get ourselves killed. Undeterred
he continued up to my ear and whispered
but wouldn’t it be a great way to die.


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