Kind in Kostm Prinzessin setzt Krone auf
by Susana H. Case

How I get a second ride: A carnival truck
wheels down my tree-lined street,
jack-in-the-box jingle
floating out, one free ticket for every child.
I line up for the rotating carts,
have my speed and whirl.
Then I race to Lizzie’s house, cover my short
hair with the breast-length blond
locks from her talking doll.
The glue that seals the plastic hair
to the rubber scalp has long ago dried out.
Wig askew, my brown bangs showing,
I exchange my blue corduroy knickers
for Lizzie’s pink ruffled dress, because
here’s what I think makes a little girl:
long blond curls, a frilly frock,
and what I already have—bee-stung red lips

and nerve. I take my new place in line.
Haven’t I seen you here before?
The ticket man takes a closer look.
That’s the beginning of a lifetime
of getting asked that same question.
No. I smile, gap-toothed,
already knowing to look him in the eye.

PHOTO:  “Girl in princess costume” by Dan Race, used by permission.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: “Nerve” is one of what I call my “Lizzie” poems, based upon true-life experiences with the girl who was my best friend in childhood. I’ve tried to find her from time to time as an adult, but have never been successful in that.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Susana H. Case’s newest book is 4 Rms w Vu (Mayapple Press, 2014). Author of four full-length poetry collections and four chapbooks, including The Scottish Café which was re-released in a Polish-English version, Kawiarnia Szkocka, by Opole University Press, she is a Professor at the New York Institute of Technology.

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: After my naturally brown hair started turning gray, I became a redhead and never looked back. The photo was taken sometime last year, in New York City, on the High Line.