Thursday, October 25, 2007

Drugstore Perfume

Another wonderful prompt from Totally Optional Prompts -- click here to read the original, by Ted Kooser. I never really "got" him, thought he was pleasant enough, but this poem stuck in my head all week.

Drugstore Perfume

She stands in a yellowed bathroom, lathers
vanilla-scented moisturizer on freshly
shaved legs. Grits her teeth against
the sting of open nicks, watches red
bumps raise on white skin. In the smell
of vanilla mingled with the light
metallic tang of blood, she breathes in
1989, breathes in fluorescent pink clouds
of Love's Baby Soft and the white cotton
tampon threads, tangled in the black leather
recesses of her dirty purse. All
that's missing from this seventh grade
scenario are the blue gray clouds
of an eight grader's cigarette butt and
the burning desperation to be noticed
and not noticed, all at once. Wait,
that's still there, hiding beneath the blood.

16 Comments:

paisley said...

this was so perfect.. i am there i am with you,, for all those things i mourn... and then not at all

jillypoet said...

I would not go back to middle school days if someone paid me! You captured the angst and longing so well! And Love's Baby Soft. Oh my gosh. I haven't thought about that in years. I wonder if they still make it? I wonder if a soccer dad will smell me wearing it and want me...oh no, wait, I'm a grown woman now...

LJCohen said...

You captured this time extremely well. Wouldn't turn the clock back for anything. It's even painful watching my children move through these middle school years. Nicely written poem.

Alan Bender said...

Time tangles up poets all over the place doesn't it? Great emotional power here.

sister AE said...

I read this once, then had to come back and read it again. I have a feeling that this one is going to stick with me for a while. Nicely done.

Jo said...

A great piece that says so much. The last line is superb!

tumblewords said...

Oh. Yes, those were the days...or not. Certainly, your words describe them so well, they bring back thoughts I was sure were dusted away!

lingling said...

This is great. I'm in middle school and I can really relate to this.
I have a blog that I keep:
http://academyofdiscovery.com/lingling/

Christine said...

You did a great job with the prompt - a close up inspection of a seemingly ordinary event. Maybe nothing is really ordinary afterall.

...deb said...

Wow. You brought back a lot. Great poem. Love the last line.

...deb said...

PS--the ad photo is creepy now, while at the time it was displayed I probably didn't think so. That blows me away, too.

Andy Sewina aka Danny Wise said...

sting of open nicks - feels/sounds painful. Hate all those girly smells, but the whole thing reads really well.

gautami tripathy said...

I just finished reading 'The Tenth Circle' by Jodi Picoult. Similar thoughts were racing in my mind. I come here and read this...

Aren't our teenagers growing faster than they should? I feel so sad...

Paul said...

Kooser is a good poet.

Dale said...

the burning desperation to be noticed
and not noticed, all at once.


...sums it up so perfectly. Add me to this list of those who would never ever go back :-)

pinky said...

i agree with Andy Sewina aka Danny Wise
feels/sounds painful.

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