bra burning

Mother dismantled my argument   
         to go braless,

twisting her lips, distrusting the story.

Why would a woman burn   
         a perfectly good brassiere?

And if a woman wanted to be Miss America

shouldn’t it be within her power
         to try?

She wondered if I got my facts straight.

"You will thank me one day,"
          mother said,

standing at the stove in her nightgown,

sauteing Hawaiian meatballs
         for a pool party.

Disappointment like the stomach flu

thumbed the soft underside
         of my jaw,

cruising in the backseats of cars with my two

best friends in their halter tops
         of macrame

and fringe. The catapult of breasts

as we ran around the car in a
         Chinese fire drill,

another phrase with a story problem.

We didn't know exactly
         who we might like,

so kissed each boy goodnight.

I stood on tiptoe. Boys tilting their chins,
         fanning their eyelashes,

holding their breath to make their chests broader,

less excited by the night air and the extra

between my breasts and me.

When I got home
women were changing

          in my bedroom.

Mothers of my friends, auxiliary women,
          women like mother

who were not bra burners,

but would like to surprise their partners
          their children,

themselves with what might be possible

if only they were unencumbered by

skewed facts. A neighbor woman

toweled off, bending from the waist,
          her pendulous breasts

hanging gruesomely to the floor.

Mother could be right

There was no arguing with gravity.

© Tori Grant Welhouse