Halloween Costume
by Loretta Diane Walker

I have seen my kid struggle into the kitchen in the morning with outfits
that need only one accessory: an empty gin bottle.--- Erma Bombeck

I’m too old for that.
Her attitude, a hilt of teenage snobbery.

Twelve Halloweens swim under the water
of the past; the black pointed witch’s hat,
orange velour pumpkin, the princess trio—
Snow White, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty dresses
form rectangular creatures of memory,
float in the flat glossy corals of photo albums.
She plops in front of a mirror, fingers a palette
of eye-shadow, sweeps her lids with green powder.

When she swathes her pimply face with makeup,
it morphs two shades lighter than her juvenile skin.
She knots the tail of a white T-shirt,
exposes a ribbon of belly flesh,
scissors a pair of faded jeans
with the care little girls use when cutting paper dolls.
Small slits uncover the blooming of her body.
A tide of silence fills the room when she unveils
this year’s costume; I’m a rock star.
We stare like fish.
Shock nibbles into her Daddy’s diplomacy.
You are not going out like that!

She wobbles down the sidewalk
on a pair of chunky-heeled shoes,
body shining in anger, costume hidden
beneath the long white shirttail of her daddy’s love.

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