Poetry First Runner-up: Taffeta. Lipstick. Stockings.

My gym, all gussied up
with streamers, balloons
hanging from rafters. Paper
lanterns, our hands braided
around each other’s waists,
girls bent close with secrets.
The punch bowl with its
plastic ladle, the fizzy
and the startling, every
bite of cake, and too sweet
icing. The deep bass
of the music moving
from slow to fast and back
to slow again. Staccato
laughter, the few brave couples
dancing in the free
throw lane. Crepe paper
hanging from bleachers, hard
and unforgiving, streamers
electrifying my just-washed
hair in its thousand and one
possibilities. The smell
of boys, sharp, exotic, tinged
with panic, in the air.

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