Roswell, Georgia, 1955
I am the one who knows
What needs to be done, I
Knew from the start that this day
Would come and find me climbing
The ladder to the attic where the brass-bound trunk
With its rivets, its hasps
Its mothballs, its sachets keep away
The yellowing, the stains and the tears
Of long, long wear. When I held it up
She cried. Little fool, as if she
Did not know herself. What she needs
Is bone, pounds of pressure to the inch,
Tight lacing, a knee in the back,
White knuckles on the bedrail.
Girls, I tell her, should only seem soft,
Should only look like they bend.
This is what you will not understand,
I tell this jelly, this fat crybaby girl.
A choking off all that offends.