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Constance Pultz Memorial Prize

Alice Osborn

 

Saturday Banking in Northern Virginia

Yellow dust flickers in humid
air. I wear a white daisy shirt
like every Saturday when Dad and I
stop at the Giant, Hechinger’s and First
Virginia Savings & Loan. I’m ten,
and hold fifty-seven dollars
in my account.

Dark cherry wood fills the space
and the bank ladies sit behind solid oak desks
where maroon carpet hushes our footsteps
and no one speaks above a whisper.

On the smooth table where the pens are lashed
I see a calendar with the date: Saturday,
April 13, 1983. Yellow buds
in a vase and a Newsweek at attention
"Gays in America" on the cover, two men
in red and teal holding hands outside.
They’re a couple and there’s no girl. I read
"Sex, Politics, and the Impact of AIDS."

Dad notices me staring; he says
nothing and I know that he knows I know,
but I don’t know (not really). I gasp,
think it’s my dad, but it’s me.
What’s outside should stay outside
and not enter a closet
where children give their money to kind lilac
women winking behind chained spectacles.