For Julia Dulon

One my students at Berriman Junior HS
dead now, no chance for her childish dreams
ever to unfold or fail
a drunk in a demon car
heaving an entire life into an irrevocable coffin.
Twelve summers, that’s all.
She sat in the first row, fourth seat
chubby, face like a butter ball, soft
always well dressed.
Julia adored cosmetics
had a special purse filled with
varieties of perfume, mascara, eye shadow,
false eye lashes, nail polish, blush
no lipstick, never asked why,
but eye shadow her passion,
especially blue and white.
“Julia, you’re in a classroom, ” I said.
“We don’t put on make-up here
we come to learn.”
“But, Bernstein, don’t I look pretty? ”
Julia become emotional at times
if someone took her potato chips,
or looked up her dress.
Thomas Minton crawled around the room
searching for fallen tidbits, a potato chip here
a pencil there, scraps of paper actually causing delirium.
One day during an intricate application of eye shadow
Minton stared up Julia’s dress
a good five minutes before his shrill squeaks startled her.
“Bernstein, ” she said angrily,
“you better tell that boy
not to look under my dress
or I’m going to beat his butt.”
Julia’s purpose in life was to discover
what it meant to be a lady.
She had come to believe reading
really didn’t have much to do
with such a sublime mission
a lady meant wearing a lovely dress
with make-up perfectly applied.
I tried to make Julia happy
her innocence so overwhelming
so I said, “Your dress is gorgeous,
those shoes utterly fabulous
please, model for us.”
She pranced to the front of the room
and turned and twirled
as she felt a Supermodel would turn and twirl
I clapped. A few students joined in.
She bowed.

by Charles Chaim Wax

Comments (2)

this story draws you in. If it is true, how very sad. I can just picture her sitting there with her purse, or twirling for the class.
C.C.W. - Your slice-of-life poetry, always with a twist, is too wonderful. My heart dropped, flip-flopped and (yes) smiled while reading this poem. Thank you for this. (I have a 12 yr. old girl; I'll treasure her all the more after this.) E.L.