In the basement of Woolworth’s 5 & Dime,
my fingers trace the shape of a white glazed horse,
pink feathered mane, rose rhinestones glued
to fuchsia felted pillion, gold rope bridled.
A perfect foal. My rider’s dream
on Sixteenth Street and Champa.
When I was seven the Saturday bus delivered me
from Gus’ Gas Station. Past the Platte River where
industry’s waste was shlepped downstream.
Over a bridge to dodge tracks of trains.
Then ousted me onto the one way streets
of Downtown Denver.
The Paramount Theater, my first stop,
a darkened cavern with closing credits
lighting my way. I always was quick to grab
a left center seat before the next show.
At movie’s end, a stroll past windows dressed,
The Denver Dry’s and Nuesetter’s dolls, all
perfect women in pill box hats and pearls.
Endpoint – my soda fountain finale.
Mother gave me ‘a little extra,’ a treat to buy
the pony enchanted within my dreams.
My choices, each lined up next to the other,
in colors matching dispositions unaltered,
blue was for boys. Yellow too bright.
Purple only given slight consideration.
Orange, the flavor of my winter cough syrup.
And red annoyingly sat on my best friend’s dresser.
I wonder if I, too, am just a category on a Woolworth
shelf? What I do, what I say never altered. One type
to be counted on, always the same without fail?
Am I only understood because I am pink,
never more than a Woolworth tchotcke?
I want to believe God is more creative than that.
I want to believe I am more, not bred to fill one slot
on a five and dime shelf just to be easy for others.
I like to think I can be orange one day,
even if I don’t like orange cough syrup.
I like to think God takes much delight in me
as I hand two dollars and fifty cents plus tax
to the cashier for the red one, the color
of tiny cinnamon dots that stain as they melt
in my fist on summer vacation.
I was lucky to take a quick class on sonnet writing this past weekend at Lighthouse Writer’s Workshop. It was taught by Kim Addonizio. She was wonderful. I was inspired…again.
Oh, I try and try to work with poetic forms. I know I will grow as a writer if I stay focused and try. I try. And fail miserably. It just does not make sense to me.
My dear friend who attended the workshop with me suggested I steep myself in reading one form for a while and I will begin to understand. This is the plan. A book of contemporary sonnets.
The above poem is NOT a sonnet, or even tries to be. It is, however, inspired from a book gifted to me by my dear friend: The Poet’s Companion – A Guide to the Pleasure of Writing Poetry by Kim Addonizio and Dorianne Laux.
Thank you from the bottom of my heart.