Gertrude and William, 1936

by Suzanne Lunden

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With each rock of her hips the pleats
          of her skirt play along, bursting
open and shut, open and shut
          to the song – its name doesn’t matter,
only that she closes her eyes
          when it comes on, and you imagine
her imagining herself falling
          head over heels into every
languid note, swimming in the groove
          carved by the trumpet, her curls
unraveling as she floats on her back
          in the tenor’s sweet vibrato –

You wish she’d take off her shoes
          so that you might see the dirty
soles of her white stockings, each toe
          print perfect; you want to shout
“I play the drums!” but you don’t,
          your Dad is a tailor, and you have fine
clothes and crummy shoes and teeth,
          and her father drinks and everyone
knows, up and down the hill, her Ma
          keeps strays, calls them Flicka and Pojke,
the only remnants of Swedish
          anyone speaks here – sometimes your Dad
will say Blixtlas instead of zipper –
          Blixtlas. You try it out on your tongue
and the music fades and you watch
        her, eyes still closed, grasp at her hair –
it hasn’t come undone, it’s just fine.

Suzanne Lunden recently won a scholarship to attend the Wildacres Writing Workshops in North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Mountains. She is a founding member of the Burlington (VT) Poetry Society and an alum of the University of Vermont, where she received the Wainwright Prize in Poetry. Suzanne lives happily in Marblehead, MA.

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