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Rank
by Donna Hilbert

I never wore white shoes
before Memorial Day
or suede in summer.
I crossed my legs
primly at the ankle,
wore a panty girdle
and a full-length slip,
no shadow of body
apparent through my dress.
I knew better than
to crackle gum,
or walk down the street
cigarette dangling
from my mouth,
knew better than
to pierce my ears,
like some common girl.
Still, his mother
rooted out the tell-tale
signs, traces of a family
line who worked for wages
in “mediocre” jobs.
The day after
we’d spent the night together
and got caught,
he came to my apartment
with a deck of cards
that he spread across
the kitchen table,
saying, Mother says
I have to teach you Bridge
so we’ll have something
in common.
He arranged the cards
in suits to demonstrate
their ranking,
clubs, diamonds, hearts, spades,
saying spades are the boss
trump, outrank everything,
always.

SOURCE: “Rank” appears in the author’s poetry collection Transforming Matter.

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: At the senior prom shortly before my 17th birthday.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: My first date with my husband was on my seventeenth birthday. The rest of my life unfolded from that day.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: . Donna Hilbert’s latest book is The Congress of Luminous Bodies, from AorticBooks. The Green Season, World Parade Books, a collection of poetry and prose, is available in an expanded second edition. The work about the death of her husband appears in Transforming Matter, and in Traveler in Paradise: New and Selected Poems, from PEARL Editions. Her work is widely anthologized, including Boomer Girls, A New Geography of Poets, Solace in So Many Words, most recently in The Widows’ Handbook (Kent State University Press) and The Doll Collection (Terrapin Books). Her poems can be found monthly at Verse-Virtual.com. More at at www.donnahilbert.com.