There were four of them
getting ready for the one date.
Chrissie swished various blouses, dresses, pants,
across the sight-line of the mirror
like swiping groceries in a checkout line.
Her mother garbed her over-racing heart
in sips of wine.
Her father slipped a good half hour
of parlor pacing on his feet.
Tina, her little sister,
swaddled herself in giggles.
Chrissie fiddled with her hair.
Her mother wiped her eyes.
Her father flexed his hands,
imagined them wrapped around
the throat of a boy
who got too fresh with his daughter.
Tina looked out the bedroom window,
eager for that first glimpse
of this surely wretched, ugly boy.
Chrissie dabbled in just enough makeup
to move her age slightly forward.
More tears turned back her mother's clock.
Rage at his own teenage misbehavior
fueled her father's calendar.
Tina vowed to never grow up.
Chrissie didn't mean to pose
at the top of the stairs
but her nerves, her light head
couldn't help themselves.
Her mother watched from the kitchen wings,
proud and afraid.
Her father was transported
to different stairs, twenty years before,
Chrissie giving way to the woman he ultimately married.
Tina saw the car drive up,
the boy emerge with a bouquet of flowers.
She was eleven years old.
For a moment or two,
she struggled to stay that age.
John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident. Recently published in Front Range Review, Studio One and Columbia Review with work upcoming in Louisiana Review, Poem and Midwest Quarterly.