Student Conference Day:
classes cancelled. Freshmen,
we were rabbits with quivering noses
sprung free from our cages.
We were the smart girls. Straight
A’s. Evenings filled with algebra.
Always first to raise our hands.
By afternoon, upperclassmen gone,
no narcs patrolling the parking lots.
We kicked off our shoes and plopped
onto the lawn in front of the office.
We were the shy girls. Invisible
in hallways. Untutored in flirting.
Doomed to miss all proms.
‘Hi, girls!’ The principal, smiling,
oblivious to our casually crossed hands,
to the odd pile in our midst
(two erasers, a stick of gum, a comb).
We were the good girls. Never
whispering in the back row. Never
passing notes or ditching class.
‘Hi, girls!’ The vice-principal, waving.
But our band director, usually unflappable,
back-tracked, loomed over us, frowned.
‘You girls playing poker?’
Patricia L. Hamilton
A native Californian, Patricia L. Hamilton is a professor of English in Jackson, Tennessee. She won the Rash Award for Poetry in 2015 and 2017. Her debut volume of poetry is The Distance to Nightfall (Main Street Rag 2014). She has received 3 Pushcart nominations.