October 9, 2011

Phyllis M. Teplitz

EVERYTHING I WANTED I HAD

          a dime to sit through a Fred Astaire movie
twice, kids to play with after school,
parents who loved me, and four sisters.
June, in college, juggling boyfriends, May,

just two years behind, sang
at all the ladies’ clubs. Eleanor,
way ahead of me too. Thirteen.
I tried imagine being so grownup.

Sure, we quarreled, but sometimes
we had such fun making fudge, dancing
to Glen Miller’s Boogie Woogie,
in the upstairs hall.

It was my birthday, my first party ever.
We played musical chairs, upset the fruit basket.
And for once, I was the center of attention.
I remember two presents,

a tiny glass vase of jeweled flowers
that shone blue and red on my hand.
The best one, a real diary. It even had
a little gold key to lock up my secrets.

After everyone left, I went up to my room,
closed the door and told my diary,
I can’t believe it. At last.
I am ten years old.

from Rattle #26, Winter 2006
Tribute to the Greatest Generation

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