A New Vocation
by Kathy Lundy Derengowski

Convent boarding school.
first formal dance.
Someone’s brother pressed into escort service.
Weeks of raw nerves.
Shopping for the first long dress,
the first high heels.
The nuns checking as I leave for the dance;
no strapless, no cleavage.
I will remember always,
the fragrance of gardenias and hairspray.
I smile and a photo captures me,
a confection in taffeta and chiffon,
as beautiful as I will ever be.
This is the exact
moment that I know —
I will never be a nun.
This is when my real life begins at last.
A different kind of novice.

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: Although all photos of this milestone are lost, I append the reminder of those days, of white gloves and fancy evening purses. Such an innocent era!

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Ah, turning back the clock and remembering the excitement of that first dance…and the gift of poetry, that blurs the edges and burnishes the highlights. This is why we write!


Kathy Lundy Derengowski
is a native of San Diego county. She is an active member and co-facilitator of the Lake San Marcos Writer’s Workshop. Her work has appeared in Summation, the ekphraisis anthology of the Escondido Arts Partnership. California Quarterly, Silver Birch Press, Turtle Light Press, and the Journal of Modern Poetry. She has won awards from the California State Poetry Society and been a finalist in the San Diego book Awards poetry chapbook category.