Marge Piercy
Always Unsuitable (1969)


She wore little teeth of pearls around her neck.


They were grinning politely and evenly at me.


Unsuitable they smirked. It is true




I look a stuffed turkey in a suit. Breasts


too big for the silhouette. She knew


at once that we had sex, lots of it




as if I had strolled into her dining-room


in a dirty negligee smelling gamy


smelling fishy and sporting a strawberry




on my neck. I could never charm


the mothers, although the fathers ogled


me. I was exactly what mothers had warned




their sons against. I was quicksand


I was trouble in the afternoon. I was


the alley cat you don't bring home.




I was the dirty book you don't leave out


for your mother to see. I was the center-


fold you masturbate with then discard.




Where I came from, the nights I had wandered


and survived, scared them, and where


I would go they never imagined.




Ah, what you wanted for your sons


were little ladies hatched from the eggs


of pearls like pink and silver lizards




cool, well behaved and impervious


to desire and weather alike. Mostly


that's who they married and left.




Oh, mamas, I would have been your friend.


I would have cooked for you and held you.


I might have rattled the windows




of your sorry marriages, but I would


have loved you better than you know


how to love yourselves, bitter sisters.