Flossie at School
– Alden Nowlan
Five laths in a cotton dress
was christened Flossie
and learned how to cry,
her eyes like wet daisies
behind thick glasses.
She was six grades ahead of me
and wore bangs; the big boys
called her “The Martian,”
they snowballed her home,
splashed her with their bicycles,
left horse dung in her coat pockets.
She jerked when anyone spoke to her,
and when I was ten
I caught up with her one day
on the way home from school,
and said, Flossie I really like you
but don’t let the other kids know I told you,
they’d pick on me, but I do like you,
I really do, but don’t tell anybody.
And afterwards I was ashamed
for crying when she cried.
For more about Alden Nowlan, click here.
Alison’s Facebook page.
We were talking about the great things
that have happened in our lifetimes;
and I said, “Oh, I suppose the moon landing
was the greatest thing that has happened
in my time.” But, of course, we were all lying.
The truth is the moon landing didn’t mean
one-tenth as much to me as one night in 1963
when we lived in a three-room flat in what once had been
the mansion of some Victorian merchant prince
(our kitchen had been a clothes closet, I’m sure),
on a street where by now nobody lived
who could afford to live anywhere else.
That night, the three of us, Claudine, Johnnie and me,
woke up at half-past four in the morning
and ate cinnamon toast together.
“Is that all?” I hear somebody ask.
Oh, but we were silly with sleepiness
and, under our windows, the street-cleaners
were working their machines and conversing in Italian, and
everything was strange without being threatening,
even the tea-kettle whistled differently
than in the daytime: it was like the feeling
you get sometimes in a country you’ve never visited
before, when the bread doesn’t taste quite the same,
the butter is a small adventure, and they put
paprika on the table instead of pepper,
except that there was nobody in this country
except the three of us, half-tipsy with the wonder
of being alive, and wholly enveloped in love.
For more information on Alden Nowlan, please click here:http://www.poemhunter.com/alden-nowlan/biography/
A big thanks to Alison for curating these beautiful poems.