7.08 / August 2012

Two Poems


Packed in a girdle
like a sausage in casing,
I’m not “showing.”
In the window of a store
where I purchase pickles and pork rinds,
a Help Wanted sign leans-
dog-eared as the has-been bouffant
checking groceries.

Clutched with nausea,
I grip a clipboard-
dot i’s with open circles,
check the box next to “Miss,”
spell out Boulevard
so the manager
will see someone
larger than ankles,
swollen from salt.

As he scans my application,
asks, “When can you start,”
something flutters-
taps and flips
against my girdle.

Worn as the doorstop heels of her shoes,
the cashier who trains me
calls customers “honey.”
Without looking,
pecks at her register-
asks when I’m due.


In the summer of moon walk and Woodstock,
seventeen and pregnant,
I was sent cross-country-
hushed away to swell and wait.

Days out from game shows and solitaire,
I browsed at a thrift shop,
pitched through stale perfume, fusty fur-
stalked weeping, sequined nothings.

In a tangle of straps and lace,
hooks, eyes, garter belts and girdles,
I found a bra-elfish green,
clear as a cresting wave.

In line for a dressing room,
someone asked, “First baby?”
Her friend cooed, “You have that certain glow.”

Topless, trapped between stalls,
I listened as the women prattled-
bundled my breasts into green party hats.

When one began, “Is your husband ready?
Has he timed the route
from home to hospital,
painted the nursery,
purchased cigars,”

I took that bra and shoved it
hard into the throat of my backpack.

Jane Otto's poems have appeared or are forthcoming in The Journal, Eclipse, Raleigh Review, Talking River, and PANK. 'Green Bra' and 'Help Wanted' are part of a work in progress entitled, 'At the Home for Wayward Girls.' Jane was raised in Colorado and grew up in New York City, where she lived for 23 years. In 2006, she relocated to Los Angeles, where she raises financial support for non-profit organizations.
7.08 / August 2012