Maria Mazziotti Gillan was the featured poet today on The Writers Almanac with Garrison Keillor. Her poem,“Bell Bottoms and Platform Shoes,” is from her collection What Blooms in Winter (NYQ Books, 2016) Listen to Keillor read the poem.
Bell Bottoms and Platform Shoes
A friend sends me a picture of herself
from the 70s—bell bottoms, platform shoes
a patterned button down shirt,
hair puffed up from a perm.
I can see the outline of the person she is now
and she reminds me of myself in the 70s—
married for eight years to a man
I knew I loved the moment I saw him,
two children who seem to me exquisitely
beautiful because they look like my husband
and not me.
The picture reminded me of all those evenings
When I dressed in bell bottoms and silky patterned shirts
and shoes with chunky heels. Those evenings
we’d invite friends over for drinks and conversation,
our children asleep upstairs. Those clothes, the perm
I got, because I wanted to be cool, though my hair
was already kinky, so the perm made me look
like I’d stuck my finger in a light socket.
I look at a picture of us from that time—Dennis and I
standing together at the head of the dining room table,
friends seated around us. Dennis’s face is flushed,
his eyes shining. I wonder if he is tipsy.
He is wearing a fitted shirt with little flowers on it.
I am grinning and looking up at him. I might as well be
wearing a neon sign that says I love you.
Looking back at us. I would like to tell
my younger self—look how fortunate you are,
the man you love beside you, your children sleeping
in their safe beds, your friends around you.
Listen, be grateful for the moments
caught in these photographs,
the world full of possibility,
the sky not yet darkened.
Maria Mazziotti Gillan's most recent books are the poetry and photography collection, Paterson Light and Shadow and the poetry collection What Blooms in Winter. Her collection of poems along with some of her paintings is The Girls in the Chartreuse Jackets . Maria's official website is MariaGillan.com.