Black Dress

When I was eighteen I wanted a black dress

Along with chandelier earrings

Dangling to my shoulders

It was my entrance to adulthood that my

First black dress or two were cotton

And the color was mandatory for

My first job as sales clerk in a department

Store where I was assigned to the

Toy department during the Christmas

Season selling mechanical toys, board games

Bicycles, and other objects hoped to

Be lusted after by pre-teenage boys

I never wore earrings then but soon acquired

A third dress for working girl wardrobe

Made of wool and saved for Thursday

When the day began at noon and stopped at

Nine o’clock with frequent special sales

To lure parents to buy unneeded gifts

Poorly made, doomed to self-destruct and add

Violent displacement to the hearts and

Minds to already intolerant vacuous youth.

I worked until a few days before the twenty-fifth

When I was laid off and reemployed again

For the spring and summer where I sold

Women’s blouses, then hosiery and finally men’s

Sportswear cheap shirts, jackets sweaters

And I earned a commission plus salary.

Those black dresses were what I wanted until I had

Them, saw them take me to this palace of

Unnecessary artifacts for unsophisticates like me.

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