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Gals and Ladies

by Ida Bettis Fogle

He claimed he never cussed
but the way he said gal
made me not want to be called one.
The word sputtered through his lips
slathered with contempt.
That gal with the red hair
who waited tables at Chubís Diner
and didnít have time for his jokes,
he never left her a tip.
The gal at the license bureau
who wouldnít renew his tags
with the paperwork he presented
was full of an incompetence
that could never be borne by a Y chromosome.

When he said lady, though,
you could almost see the word
float from his mouth
each letter gilded in gold.
The ladies at church who served coffee
cooked ham dinners
and cleaned up after,
they were worthy of respect.
The lady next door
who kept her yard so tidy
and agreed with his politics
was everything a neighbor should be.
I didnít care to be a lady either.

What I wanted to be was
something he didnít have a word for.

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