Paper Plate
by Alicia Hoffman

Every Easter she decorated hers,
though her family never once adorned
themselves with such haberdashery,
and her neighbors and relatives
wouldn’t be caught in any Episcopalian
aisle with something so confectionary.
When the teacher weighed out
the accoutrements she couldn’t wait
to grab the Elmer’s glue and begin
accounting for her share of fuzz balls,
feather yellow chicks, blue plastic petals,
glitter and string. The paper plate
can become a masterpiece for anyone
so willing. It was a party line,
a capitalistic enterprise, and that girl,
all blue jeans and kangaroos, wanted it all,
though Jesus said thou shall not want, want
is what she did, watching the purple and pink
and rainbow ribbons glitter shine like loaves
and fishes on the table, taking her hungry share,
affixing them in a perfect way, more so than
her clothes, too tight or too worn, more perfect
than her home, dust ridden and full of secret hates
and nothing that could be called love like this.
It was in a moment she knew, as she donned
that millineries’ perfection on her head and
it popped its rubber band string upon her chin
that this is it. This, Mary, mother of all things and
girls, too, this, Mount Sinai Moses with his ancient
beard and scrolls from heaven, this parading and
sashaying down room B 242 to the old elementary
school gymnasium where there were roller skate parties,
where there was that girl who teased her the other week
for her flattened hair and pointy nose, this is it
because she will gasp along with the rest of the girls
that turn their birdy necks long to look at her sway
down the hall thinking there goes one in a million.

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