Everything about her is a lie,
from her jangly bangle bracelets
to her fat, ravenous smile,
her overdone drawl like a Dixie belle
when she stops you in the hall
and calls you to her office.
She’s Miss Vance, except she’s married,
a faux feminist counselor you never see
till you’re already in trouble again, like me.
If you have a bad attitude like mine,
or a few other 6th grade girls in ’79,
you’re still smarting from last year,
when she knew you hadn’t plagiarized
your book report off the cover–
yet she never apologized
and still called your mother.
It’s hard to breathe in here,
overwhelming warm like a Hallmark store,
heavy with mint and Miss Vance’s Aviance.
It always takes so freaking long,
learning from her what you did wrong.
But it’s something to do with Career Day speeches
about smart girls aiming to be nurses and teachers–
not oceanographers, senators, judges
but secretaries, salesgirls and stay-at-home mothers.
Meanwhile in our library, dank and dim,
even the crickets nod off, uninspired,
and I whisper to Carol, I’m so damned tired.
Now Miss Vance is lifting the telephone,
reeking of an Aviance night though it isn’t even 3.
And here I am, the evil girl who said the word “damn,”
daughter of our school’s only known