jackie kennedy
French. Kennedy. O.
by Jacalyn Carley

Named by
fate, chosen!, to
follow in her pumps
to wear fake pearls, meant

to share her
Camelot, serve
her dreams as all
Americans still dreamt.

In her image
I sewed A-lines,
savaged curls into
pageboys, hoped John-

John might later
overlook the difference
in our ages. Prince Charles
my other suitor, had the right age,

a good name and
stellar digs but didn’t
have the looks or the gait
and certainly not the mother.

O. Jackie. Oh, the
coif: mine! Oh, the yacht:
on order! Oh, the promises your
poise, your name still harbors. Je t’adore.

PHOTO: Jacqueline Kennedy, around 1962.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: The prompt caught me unawares, I hadn’t thought about Jackie Kennedy and her profound influence on me (and many of my generation) for quite a while. And how proud I was to have the name of that First Lady! Encouraged and enamored, I wore my enormous braces and a bite-corrector in style, believing any girl with the right posture, perfect pastel dresses and the discipline to sleep every single night of the week on a head full of metal-brush curlers could – and would – become a Jackie Kennedy.


ANOTHER NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: My mother wanted her first daughter to be named Jackie. The nurse told her that was not a real name, it would have to be formalized. The same nurse told her using Q’s and U’s was not American. The nurse proceeded to make up a name, and write JACALYN on the birth certificate (which did not change the course of name-giving in America, as was certainly intended). After a long flirtatious childhood spent with the name Jackie (during which time Jackie Kennedy appeared and brought Q’s and U’s and French flair to all Americans), I became a choreographer and changed my name to Jac. I now go by both Jac and Jacalyn, although there are people who insist on making my hair stand on end by calling out, “Good work, Jackie!” when I give a reading. Which explains why that Jackie O pageboy look no longer sits like it once did.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jacalyn Carley is a writer and On-site Director for Sarah Lawrence College’s “Summer Arts in Berlin” study abroad program. She also donates time to refugee needs in Berlin.