by Kim Dower

Kim Dower

Promiscuous is what my mother
called a friend of mine in high school.
It wasn’t just the word, but the way
she said it – savoring every syllable
as if sipping a smooth single malt scotch.
Pro-mi-scu-ous, she would say — the way
she’s drops one boy for the next,
the way she dresses. I would admonish
myself — Why tell her anything, I’d rant
in my head, you stupid you.
My friend wore short dresses with boots,
left her legs bare, strong. I tried it once
but kept pulling my tights back on,
I was no slut like Marion. She was
probably sleeping with our English
teacher, Mr. Hardy, taught us Madame
Bovary and had dimples. Yes, for sure
she was sleeping with him, with her good
vocabulary and her bare legs.
Mr. Hardy used the word “promiscuous”
when teaching the story of Emma’s compulsive
love for Rodolphe. The cliff notes say
“she falls for him because of his stylish green
coat and his title, and he desires her because
she seems like an easy conquest.” See:
promiscuity! Was Mr. Hardy Marion’s
Rodolphe? I never had her over again,
after my mother’s remark. I kept things
secret – those bare legged things, as I pinched
my nipples to make them pop under my shirt,
meticulously drew the black liner under
my lids, as I rolled my tights off in the girl’s
bathroom before I slid into the seat of my
11th grade math class, I too, would get a green
coated man! Perhaps Mr. Bander. After all,
I needed extra help in Geometry, not in language
or matters of the heart. I already knew then
what I know now. In short, it’s no mystery
how sluts get to be sluts. It’s all
knot in your stomach, headlong, obsession
and remorse, sizzle and ghost.

Last updated August 16, 2022