Wednesday, June 30, 2010

American Town

She is wearing glasses.
That is probably the first problem.
She also didn’t put her hair up.
No one wins Ms. Small Town America
without putting their long naturally wavy hair up.

They only ask the contestants two questions.
I tell my husband that I want one of them to stand up
and scream that it is 2010 and maybe we can stop
subjecting young girls to this kind of judgment
but I know even before the woman in front of me
shoots me a dirty look
that I’m talking to myself.

The blonde down the row will win.
She’s in a short blue dress. When the judges ask her
why she wants to be Ms. Small Town America
she talks about loving her town.
Her sweet little town.
Everyone cheered.
She’s going to win.

My girl doesn’t mention that.
She pushes her glasses up her nose.
She sniffs into the microphone.
And I think to myself,
Don’t worry girl.
You’ll be a poet one day.
And you’ll leave all this behind.
You’ll read Dorothy Parker and laugh.
You’ll find your way to Boston
and then farther on a plane to Istanbul.

You’ll never forget this moment,
when you don’t win,
but it will start to fade, like the tattoo
you’ll stamp on your lower back in five years
before you hitchhike out of this American town

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