WHAT IS THE DRESS YOUR MOTHER NEVER WORE?
The pink one, tulle overlays, sparkling sequins!
A silky tufted bodice as seductive as Betty Grable’s legs
or Gloria Swanson’s eyebrows. Capped sleeves with black velvet ribbons
and more of the same in-ing and out-ing in the eyelet of its lacy hem—
“pulling it all together” as she would have said
if she’d ever taken such a risk.
Hers was the country of cotton and wool,
of tailored and tweed, tidy and neat.
Her necklines never plunged, probably thought cleavage
had something to do with butchering meat.
“Slacks” were not done, skirts had pleats.
Her style prairie bland, perfectly suited
to a banker’s wife in a city of staid.
WHAT IS THE DRESS YOUR MOTHER-IN-LAW NEVER WORE?
It buttoned up to the neck, her swan-like neck,
fell far below her vainglorious knees. The color? Beige,
the style a sack, a drip-dry print of pinks and blues
perfectly complementing her tennis shoes.
Hers was the country of glitter and bling,
flirt and flash, sexy and chic.
A black satin cocktail suit with jutting peplum,
rhinestone encrusted “pumps,” fishnet stockings.
A gold lamé gown edged in mink,
neckline plunging to its “waltz length” hem,
a frock of her own design.
The taxi squeals and Manhattan’s canyons
an ideal backdrop for her performance
as the royal consort of a rag-trade king.
Virginia Beards draws from an archive of urban (New York, Philadelphia), suburban (Seattle), rural (Lancaster County, PA), and international experience (Denmark, France, North Africa), plus a considerable literary backlog acquired as a member of the Penn State English Department for twenty-three years. Her debut collection of poetry Exit Pursued by a Bear and Others was published in 2014 by Oermead Press. She has published criticism in The Journal of Modern Literature, Twentieth Century Views of Women Writers, and in Critique: Studies in Modern Fiction. Her poetry has appeared in Writing on the Edge (Univ. of California, Davis) and her short stories in Chester County Fiction. She holds a M.A. from the University of Pennsylvania and a Ph.D. from Bryn Mawr College.