*Not your average publishing company

Remembering My First Bra

We lined up in our uniforms —
Immaculate Heart of Mary blue serge
pressed against our chests.
Some of us with double bubbles
perkily waiting to be popped;
the Pastor walking down the line
tweaking our little titties.

When I told my mama he passed me by,
she slammed her hand palm
down on the kitchen table in disgust.
We’re going to make
you look like Betty Grable,
she said, marching me to the trolley.
30 inches around my bust,
we tried on double As, Bs and Cs,
We’ll take the C, she insisted.

When does Father line you up?
First thing in the morning.
Mama pulled a slip over my blank ribcage,
my first bra lay cups up pointed and empty
as water ice cones waiting to be filled.
Mama stuffed them with steel wool,
strapped me into the bra and snapped
the clasps behind my back.
First my blouse, then my uniform
flattened her contraption.
She reached through the armholes
rearranging the cups like jumbo Hershey Kisses,
then opened the tin of navy blue
shoe polish we bought for my first pair
of mid-heels, and daubed a bit
on each pointy tip.

Father walked the line
looking at me for awhile.
What have we here?
Without missing a beat
he gave my new nipples a twist.
First one, then with a double tap,
they each collapsed like his smile.
As mama and the other mothers surged
into the room he raised up his hands
stunned his fingers were blued.
Mama grasped him at his wrists.
Never try that again, she hissed.

Merilyn Jackson has published more than 1100 articles on dance, theater, food, and Eastern European and Latin American culture in diverse publications, (Philadelphia Inquirer, 1996-2020.) She writes regularly for Fjord Review.com, https://www.der-theaterverlag.de/tanz/ueber-tanz/. She was an NEA Critics Fellow at ADF (2005) and a Pennsylvania Council on the Arts Fellow for her post-Holocaust, food-driven novel-in-progress, Solitary Host. In 2012, she attended Peter Balakian’s (Colgate) and the late Tom Lux’s (Sarah Lawrence) poetry workshops. Her poetry is published in several print and online journals. Twitter: @Merilynjune Facebook.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: