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Gym Class 1952
by Connie K. Walle
Not today. No one-piece
piss-yellow shorts gym suit.
Today we stay dressed
except for shoes.
It is ballroom dance class.
I think about the jacket I designed
to match the skirt I will finish
for my doll tonight.
I look up and Mrs. Brown
Is staring down at me saying,
Miss Murray, didn’t you hear
Hear me call your name?
I answer, “No ma’am”.
She grabs my arm and pulls
me out to the middle
of the gym floor,
“Pick a boy”, she gruffly says.
I pick Robert, the hall monitor,
cute, dark hair, slender.
Doesn’t really matter.
She practically drags Robert
onto the floor in front of me.
I smile, say “Don’t worry”,
(I know all the steps.)
My mother taught me to dance
before she taught me to walk.
Dancing with mother, I never really
connected it to boys.
I figured I would have to lead.
She takes his left hand
And places it in my right hand.
We hold it high, stand apart.
I put my hand on his shoulder,
He flinches. She places his right
hand on the small of my back.
Sweat is beading up on his forehead.
We practice the box waltz. Dancing
in a square. Like I said, I led.
Finally the bell rings and Robert
runs to his next class.
I walk to my next class, realize
the small of my back is wet and warm
where his hand held me.
Wet and warm, where he held me.
From her book: What’s Left (MoonPath Press) 2018