July 10th, 2008

poetry, exceptindreams

244: Panties in the Street

“Panties in the Street”
Debra Spencer

Black lace rolled into a figure eight
at the edge of the sidewalk, lavender spandex
wadded tightly in the gutter, pink cotton
draped on a bus-stop bench along the boulevard.
On a wire fence down a back alley, on a quiet street
near the library, a single pair swept aside
by the wheels of a passing car, alone
or with a wrinkled condom nearby
like the shed skin of a snake, panties
delicate, abandoned, flaming red or cool blue
or ice white against the blacktop. They fell
from the top of the laundry bag
while she struggled to hold the kids’ hands
crossing the street. He threw them out
of the car after he dropped her off, not wanting
to leave them for his wife to find. His
blunt-fingered hands jerked them off
or her own small trembling hands
rolled them down her thighs, her eyes
on the gun or the knife. They were both middle-aged,
so drunk such niceties as panties no longer mattered,
didn't even glance around for the cops
out here under what stars still shine
through a city night, out here among
the bourgeoisie and the Republicans.
They were in their late teens or early
twenties walking home toward parents
or roommates, prurience more urgent
with every step. They were stoned or maybe
just sick of being good, the trap of school
or jobs looming ahead of them, they
shucked off prudence as quickly as the panties,
a hand up under her skirt, a furtive
glance up and down the dark deserted street,
hearts beating, the first of many heedless acts,
or the last daring thing they’ll ever do.