“Time of My Life” by Angela Voras-Hills

Angela Voras-Hills



I wanted to be invited into music, if not
by the guy with a thick Brooklyn accent
and white tennis shoes carrying
watermelons, then by any other guy

my parents would’ve hated.
I wanted to be in the room
where the real dancing happened,
bodies moving together fluid

as breath, my eyes caught in the twirl
of Penny’s dress, her whole body
moving in tandem with Johnny’s,
maintaining at once space

and no space between them.
I wanted to lose myself like that
to my body. But I didn’t want to be
Baby: a girl on a leash tethered loosely,

with enough money to vacation.
In some ways, though, I was her,
bearing the weight of expectation, believing
people to be good, the world

to be fair, that a girl can have everything
she wants as long as she’s willing
to smile. And not understanding
why, back then, I wanted what I wanted,

each night I snuck out of my tucked-in
kitty covers, let my lips rove wildly around
my Dirty Dancing poster, my tongue
searching out Swayze’s mouth.


What I didn’t understand in the movie, I thought
I’d missed during truth or dare. Amanda dancing naked
on the picnic table, Katie doing push-ups
with eggs in her training bra. By the time we wriggled
into our sleeping bags, Penny was lying in bed,
Baby’s father beside her. Watching again, all the blood
in this scene is gone—how had I imagined
so much blood? What did I know back then
about the body? At lunch the following Monday,
we snuck away, followed Amanda into the handicap stall,
circled her. I fidgeted, tracing grout between the pink tiles
that contained our irregular breaths, our Baby Soft
and Teen Spirit. Amanda took a swig of Coke,
all of us watching as she pulled the banana
from her brown bag, peeled it, slowly slid it
down her throat and swallowed soda. She pulled
the banana back out of her mouth in one piece,
and we applauded, cheered, exhaled. We were learning
lessons left and right. Mrs. K showed us how to insert
a tampon using her closed fist. We watched a cartoon girl
hug herself in a bay window, waiting for her cramps
to calm. The raw physicality, all of that blood in health class,
in our kitchens, coming out of our bodies. The dismembered
babies we saw on signs as our bus drove past Planned Parenthood.
Was this how the blood got into Penny’s bed?


In the version of the Penny scene I remembered,
she was wearing a gold necklace with a saint’s medal.

I don’t know which saint, but in the scene, she
and Johnny prayed together, and a Rosary hung

on the wall behind her bed. Watching now, it’s clearly
not a saint—just a thin gold chain with a tiny circle pendant.

In my childhood, Penny was forgiven
by whichever god she prayed to.


I was ashamed I was ashamed I was ashamed and
drove and drove and drove and then drove
home opened the test and the wait
was not long and opened the yellow pages
and drove alone and drove and drove
until nobody knew me

and the square brick building with the window
and the window with the neon-pink “free test” sign
and the woman on the brown couch under fluorescent
lights under a drop ceiling holding yellow baby booties
that she’d knitted as though she spent days praying
for pregnant girls and knitting these booties and humming
as they peed on sticks in the bathroom adjacent

In reverse order of importance:
My best friend from high school offered to be my Lamaze coach
The Lutheran woman who gave me the pastel yellow booties
The long walk back to the car holding those booties

from Rattle #62, Winter 2018


Angela Voras-Hills: “Poetry is a thing we all breathe. I write it because I can’t not write it, because it keeps me honest. It is how I think and the way the world makes sense to me. I write poetry because grounding thoughts, emotions, and moments to this planet with words makes the human experience seem tangible (though fleeting). I write it to convince myself that, in the end, everything will end, and that’s ok. Poetry is like prayer, and poetry is like magic, and poetry is like a Band-Aid with a bit of antibiotic ointment on it. Or maybe even a kiss after falling.” (web)

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