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Unconditional Day

At 13 they brought me on television
to tell of my first love
under the bleachers.
I thought it was the real thing.
And the country shared it the way
they share candy on Halloween,
when I could dress up in anything as anyone,
and strangers would open their doors,
bending kindly to ask, Who are you?

Sometimes I'd say,
I am a Dallas Cheerleader!
or The Wicked Witch of the West!
I was myself one evening every year
from six to eight o'clock,
as the orange lanterns gleamed
on my claws, my beak, my fangs,
or my star, my wand, my slippers.

Halloween was the perfect holiday.
No songs about snow and families,
no creamed onions or long, fantastic graces,
no football games I had to watch in the yard,
just a night of flowing capes and almond eye slits,
of makeup without quarrels,
and sheets without memories.
Mother would slave over my costume
as though I was a turkey dinner for my uncles.
After a while, only my dog could recognize me.

Even now, nineteen, I go out,
gaudy with ugliness and streaming with beauty.
the doors are opened and I feel
I could not have turned out better.

—Julie Lechevsky

from Poems and Plays, Number 8, Spring / Summer 2001
Middle Tennessee State University

Copyright 2001 by Julie Lechevsky.
All rights reserved.

Reprinted by permission of Middle Tennessee State University from Poems and Plays, Number 8, Spring / Summer 2001. Copyright 2001 by Julie Lechevsky. For further permissions information, contact Julie Lechevsky, 905 Preston Avenue, Blacksburg, VA 24060.

Poetry 180

About the Poet

Julie Lechevsky is the author of three poetry collections, including Kiss (Quercus Review Press, 2005). Having attended Oberlin College, she currently lives in Blacksburg, Virginia.