The Laughter of Stafford Girls’ High (excerpt)

(…) a pale girl, a girl
who looked, in the stale classroom light, like a sketch
for a girl, a first draft to be crumpled and crunched
and tossed away like a note. She cleared her throat,
raising her eyes, water and sky, to look at Miss Fife.

The girls who were there that day never forgot
how invisible crayons seemed to colour in
Geraldine Ruth, white face to puce, mousey hair
suddenly gifted with health and youth, and how –
as Miss Fife demanded what was the meaning of this-
her lips split from the closed bud of a kiss
to the daisy chain of a grin and how she yodelled
a laugh with the full, open, blooming rose of her throat,

a flower of merriment. What’s the big joke?


and that, in fact, is something the reader has to figure out for herself. i love this poem. it is twenty pages long (in the edition i have) and even though i usually have no patience with long poems this one doesn’t feel long at all. carol ann duffy’s “Feminine Gospels” has been a faithful companion for a few years now. i take the collection with me on train rides, to waiting rooms, etc, because it tells such interesting stories in such an effective, interesting way. however, the laughter poem is my all-time favorite. it makes me smile deep under the surface every time.


About annette.c.boehm

words escape me.

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