by Sara Parrell

Lilac Gardens

In the city of my childhood
I am dancing with Nyla Weitzmann

because it is acceptable for girls to polka
with girls under the smoky lights

of Lilac Gardens, Highway 14’s dance hall
west of everything I know.

Here our older sisters and their friends host
wedding dances and blue-ink music writes its vow

into the night. Nyla and I two-step and waltz
as good as the bridesmaids, our damp arms drape

each other’s matching shifts of puckered
pink seer-sucker and we are hot, so hot

we consider burning down the house, shouting
to the mop-haired boys slouched against

the cinder-blocks Jump up and catch me!, hustling
out the side door and into the vast tracts of grain.

This is where I lose her—she romps away
with the tall one into the rustling husks

while I back-peddle into the dark womb just in time
to see the bride lift her dress for man after man

to slip his dollar into her garter for a so-wet kiss.
-originally appeared in Wisconsin People and Ideas