Suddenly the girls we knew from grade school,

the girls we kissed and touched behind the church

under drab corduroy uniforms

paraded past us in black lace tights

onto the stage for the chorus line number

in the spring play

at the women’s high school academy,

proud of their breasts in low cut tops,

hair teased and sprayed, dazzling Dianas

of rouged faces and powerful voices

high stepping with sexuality and pizzazz


Suddenly we felt dumb and diminished,

we college boys in the male roles

with false mustaches, cowboy hats

and clumsy western boots,

stricken and weak and overwhelmed

to see them spiraling into goddesses

in a single night, singing, hoofing, as though

they were born to star in the flashing lights


Afterwards at the cast party at Caroline’s house

smelling of sweat and lust and faintly of flowers

they hugged and kissed us again and again,

suddenly laughing, victorious, happy young women

stronger and surer than they had ever been

after school on those grim afternoons in the days

when we still called musicals “operettas”