Leveler Poetry Journal
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When We Met During Prohibition


you were a scofflaw and I swore up and down I was a teetotaler

but at the weekends stole nips of your contraband. On my birthday


you gave me a hip flask, a brilliant piece of armor for the dance floor.

My whole life: a toss up between Carry Nation and the flappers.


Life with Carry, dead before ‘12: to be good is to act wild. My first

taste of a reckless woman. Smash the saloons but don’t grab, destroy


what you despise instead of dwelling on what you might want. Later,

life with flappers: a hairstyle weighing less than ten pounds, rouge


and fake pearls, the discovery that our Victorian mothers were wrong

or lying or simply starved—orgasms weren’t myth at all.


Had been there for the taking. You wore suspenders and pomade

in your hair and at first I told myself Well, boys wear suspenders,


but then it became better for both of us that you weren’t a boy,

that I wasn’t a teetotaler, that my hair was chopped but femme.


That my first hero wasn’t afraid to dismantle a man’s milieu

with a hatchet, give up a marriage, sing praise without embarrassment.


Carry might be the reason for my little sips today. My torn stockings.

My theological cherry-picking. My hemline, a risen afterthought.


I’ll take her disgust as a compliment. I’ll take you home on the train.

Kathleen Jones