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Image by Diego Rosa

Girl trees

We were festooned every season
like Christmas trees.
For Easter, hair wrapped in baby blue ribbons
pink corsages clipped on our delicate wrists
lacy shawls draped on bare shoulders.
For Thanksgiving, adorned in
dresses long enough to touch
our patent leather shoes
legs bound with pantyhose.

We were lined up for pictures
and called pretty.
We were told what was true,
and what was not 
about who we were and would be.
We were given bouquets to hold
as we practiced holding our smiles.

The boys were told
what was true
and not true
about who we were and would be:
teachers, nurses, wives, lovers.

Later, some of the boys would pay
in their hearts
for the lies they told us
to pry that prettiness open.

Mary Christine Kane is a Moth-winning storyteller and her poetry has appeared in numerous publications including Bluestem; Mutabilis Press, Plainsongs Magazine, Portage Magazine, White Ash Literary Magazine, Right Here, Right Now: The Buffalo Anthology and elsewhere. Mary’s poetry chapbook, Between the stars where you are lost, was published in 2019. Her essays have appeared in anthologies published by Chicken Soup for the Soul, Chicago Story Press and others. She lives in Minneapolis and can be found online at


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