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Short hair since I was twelve     

I watched unseen from the bedroom doorway as my

big brother’s grown up party splashed over into the kitchen.


She was soft with straight crow black hair, a cello voice of rich notes,

plump muscular arms the color of Boston coffee


Her alluring scent was Gin bought at the perfume

counter for twenty-five dollars an ounce,


She came with Myron’s cousin Carl, a second

string friend, a short, hard built westside kind of guy.


Her hair in almost a buzz, brazen for 1955, she had to know

what was what and didn’t care, even a kid could see that.


She sat on a round red stool at the metal trimmed linoleum kitchen counter,

one knee flipped casually over the other, two bare legs in very high heels.


I was twelve and a girl, eyes wide in search

for what kind of grownup woman I wanted to be,


Carlotta beguiled us with her broad red flash of a mouth

plump bosom tipped just right against the silk of her blouse,


she knew who she was, it didn’t matter if you did or didn’t.

With barely a word she magnetized the room of circling


singles, flirting and watching over their glasses

of iced martinis, circling her like co-stars in a college play.


For one quick instant she looked over her shoulder, winked at me

peeking from the door, returned to her fans and threw back her head


to laugh, exposing her young throat seemingly vulnerable

but even I knew from my hideout, no one messed with Carlotta.


              Sharon Lopez Mooney, “Short hair since I was twelve”, in MemoryHouse Magazine,

              Chicago Literary History Collection, Winter/March Edition, ed. Hannah Wilson-Black,

              Chicago, IL 2022

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