Mary Gets Going, Circa 1943
by Pat Daneman


(from a photograph in a New York hotel lobby)

Fresh red wash in her hair, black
dress belted tight, skirt that twirls
past her garters. So many people
in the street, chairs and tables
on the sidewalk. She doesn’t need
a partner or even peace, she only
needs her feet, this Madonna
in the amber heat, this snow-white
temptress. Times Square,
where the sailors are.
From every door, music,
a brass-dark mix, a din
made only for dancing.
Beer spills from paper cups,
splashes her new high heels.
It would frighten her mother
to see her. Her sisters
would be jealous. Mary,
who irons her gloves and keeps
her books in order on the shelf
over her bed—tonight
she will dance, with men
and without them. Legs split,
elbows spread—Mary,
circa 1943, like any girl
who sees someone
looking (his fingers
snapping, his black hair
curling), she catches
the beat and gets going.






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