charmed Miss Konkle with her quick answers
and love of alphabet, stories, numbers. Charmed
too, Miss Brown, Mrs. Walter and Mrs. Horton.
I learned if you're needed
Caraboose, the bad fairy who put Princess Aurora
to sleep, along with the whole castle, was on the loose
doing a lazy fairy’s job: letting hormones destroy
the charming little girls -- many of them, perhaps most.
At twelve, the feet grew huge, arms hung gangling,
blond hair turned dishwater dull and drab, and a bean
pole body was slow to round out like the bodies of Barbies.
Myopia blurred the vision in the mirror; glasses were needed.
“Boys don’t make passes at girls who wear glasses.”
Oh, I knew, just when my brain matured enough to know
such things, that I was a mess. No dates for me, no boy
friends, none of those delicious teenage delights
in Seventeen. Teacher’s pet was a curse, excitement
about the Metropolitan Opera Saturday broadcasts instead
of Elvis or even Sinatra, part of the thorny hedge
the ugly fairy erected around me. I knew no Prince
would ever come to cut through the briars and kiss me
ever so gently -- oh, god, how I wanted that magic kiss!
Princesses in fairy tales don’t get to go to college.
I wasn’t born a princess and only Disney believes in fairies.
The good old Greyhound bus and the shot-straight roads
of Indiana took me to cities beyond the corn fields.
The mirror on the wall never did say I was “fairest of them all”
but I didn’t have to live with seven variously handicapped dwarfs.
I did have to wise up, forget about Princes and learn about Erica Jung
and Gloria Steinem. I looked down and saw those once gallumpy feet
were a very solid foundation for standing on.
My mother must have been the one
who offered my piano playing.
She’d been driving me to lessons
for four years. I practiced faithfully.
She didn’t know how incompetent
were teacher and pupil both.
I was twelve, talentless, unable
to handle key signatures with more
than two flats or sharps.
But Florence Rahe, the pianist,
was unwell, she could only play
the piano for the church service.
We need you, Floyd Busteed said.
I’ll give you a hymnal
tell you what to practice
Florence Rahe died. I played
At both services until I left
for college. No one else could.
I learned: if you’re need
perfection is not required,
mistakes are forgiven,
you'll stop shaking, you’ll be
praised by those who couldn’t
or wouldn’t do the job.
I’ve said yes when I could have,
probably should have, said no,
in many unforeseeable situations.
My mother made me who she wanted
me to be. I learned responsibility.
Simple ignorance, lack of proficiency
doesn’t matter very much --
not really, not if no one else says yes.
I don’t regret my yeses.
After a 30-year professional playwriting career in New York City with productions, readings, commissions and invitations to national conferences, June Calendar has retired to Cap Cod. She is now writing poetry, short stories and various kinds of prose. She also teaches writing skills to seniors at the Academy for Lifelong Learning housed at Cape Cod Community College.