Patricia L. Hamilton

Coming-of-Age Story

After college we transformed ourselves with contact lenses
and acrylic nails, acquiring credit cards and new-car loans, 
growing toward womanhood like vines

twining their tendrils toward the sunlight.
At the year mark we felt mild surprise
when the classmate with the fusty biblical name

a timorous soul, trapped behind tortoise-shell glasses,
her home-sewn clothes never in style,
her only vividness a helmet of flame-red hair

was the first among us to get married.

One Thursday eight months later her newlywed husband
dropped by after work on a gleaming Harley Super Glide
to see our new roommate, a honey-tongued blonde
who'd answered the ad we'd placed to cope with
our steep rent
an old friend from way back, he explained
as she hopped on the bike behind him and clamped her hands
on his slender hips to take a spin around the block.
He's merely showing off his new toy, we thought.  Men did that.
But the next Thursday the ride was longer, and reportedly faster,
wind whipping their hair as they careened through the hills.

And so it went.  Our roommate denied it meant anything,
insisting a little harmless indulgence never hurt anyone.
But when she unwrapped her arms from his waist
and slung her leg off the bike, she always lingered
at the curb, the two talking long into the dinner hour.
Hearing the engine's slow throb, we would creep
into the living room and peer through the half-open blinds,
helpless as a Greek chorus, unable to avert our eyes
as if we were watching a scene from a forbidden movie,
one whose ending we knew we were not going to like.

Patricia L. Hamilton is a professor of English at Union University in Jackson, TN.  Her work has recently appeared in Connecticut River Review, Sierra Nevada Review, Illya's Honey, Big Muddy, and The Southern Poetry Anthology: Tennessee.  Her first volume of poetry, The Distance to Nightfall, is forthcoming from Main Street Rag Press.  She has received two Pushcart nominations. 



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