Ethel Lang was the most beautiful girl
in Saint Anastasia Grammar School.
Tall and graceful, she usually wore
a sprig of tiny flowers in her hair,
lilies-of-the-valley or violets, fastened
with a tortoise shell barrette. Winters,
a jeweled butterfly took their resting place.
When Ethel entered a classroom,
a message for the teacher in her hand,
even second-graders knew to look.
Some never saw her eyes or heard
her voice and so she seemed to them
almost an apparition of some catholic sort.
It would be terrible to think she
met some sad and wholly unfair fate,
beheaded like Anastasia for her faith
─the terrorists would have taped the murder─
or, a bad marriage to a man who hits.
Eerie hells await even the beautiful.
Rather, imagine her arranging flowers,
loosely, so they breathe. She is
laughing easily at a friend’s remark.
In another room of the house
guests from other countries gather,
the scent of jasmine everywhere.
© Barbara Alfaro