“Unconditional Day” by Julie Lechevsky
Poetry 180: A Poem a Day for American High Schools, Hosted by Billy Collins, U.S. Poet Laureate, 2001-2003
At 13 they brought me on television to tell of my first love under the bleachers. I thought it was the real thing. And the country shared it the way they share candy on Halloween, when I could dress up in anything as anyone, and strangers would open their doors, bending kindly to ask, Who are you? Sometimes I'd say, I am a Dallas Cheerleader! or The Wicked Witch of the West! I was myself one evening every year from six to eight o'clock, as the orange lanterns gleamed on my claws, my beak, my fangs, or my star, my wand, my slippers. Halloween was the perfect holiday. No songs about snow and families, no creamed onions or long, fantastic graces, no football games I had to watch in the yard, just a night of flowing capes and almond eye slits, of makeup without quarrels, and sheets without memories. Mother would slave over my costume as though I was a turkey dinner for my uncles. After a while, only my dog could recognize me. Even now, nineteen, I go out, gaudy with ugliness and streaming with beauty. the doors are opened and I feel I could not have turned out better.
from Poems and Plays, Number 8, Spring / Summer 2001
Middle Tennessee State University
Copyright 2001 by Julie Lechevsky.
All rights reserved.
Reprinted by permission of Middle Tennessee State University from Poems and Plays, Number 8, Spring / Summer 2001. Copyright 2001 by Julie Lechevsky. For further permissions information, contact Julie Lechevsky, 905 Preston Avenue, Blacksburg, VA 24060.