Early Forties Song

The two women swing arm in arm
in the photo I have of them
white as forbidden chocolates
after heat.

The married one holds my interest,
strikes a pose like a match
at the end of a rationed Lucky Strike—
the other merely tags along,
a single run in silk hose.

Somewhere there’s a war—
so there’s war everywhere.
Though some think not here
but where the men are,
where all that blowzy red
just oozes with trench mud,
where magnolias pitch on scarlet swishy skirts
any green sailor would be sick for.

Necklaces from the Pacific
click like empty shells.
The dangerous one thinks she hears the sea
hang about her neck like a rosary
but it is only blood
quickened by her first wine ever.

At the end of a week of riveting
she wheedles an old man with rouge
to snap the pictures.
Each pose she is so happy
not yet to be my mother.

But war acts catch up,
strain a marriage. Adultery
and war make such a loving couple
it frizzes hair.


Kay Murphy
from her book Belief Blues
Portals Press, 1998

Used with permission of the poet.

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