2 Poems | Penelope Gay Dane

The Sweet Valley Twins Discuss Me

Jessica admired her tanned legs in the mirror.
“Lizzie, don’t you ever wish we were a little taller? Maybe
Elizabeth’s perfect size six figure sprawled
across Jessica’s unmade bed. “How do you live like this?”

Jessica dug through the clothes on her floor.
“I think these pants make me look taller.”

Elizabeth flipped the pages of Jessica’s latest copy
of Intrigue Magazine. “You know whose lost weight? Penelope.”

Jessica pranced over in a pair of red four inch heels.
“She could stand to lose about ten more pounds.”

Elizabeth’s blue-green eyes widened.
“Where did you get those shoes? Mom will never let you out in those.”

Jessica flipped her wavy blond hair.
“Come to think of it, maybe not. She’s so tall. She’d look like
a praying mantis or Olive Oil if she got much skinner. I’d hate to be that tall. You just can’t win.”

“Jessica, how can you be so shallow? Weren’t you just complaining
about being too short? I’m glad Penelope stopped binging
on ice cream and cookies. Her lunch tray used to make me so sad
with all that junk food.”
Elizabeth sighed, grateful for her size six figure. She was so glad she didn’t have the kind of life that led girls like Penelope to self-destructive habits.

“My sister – friend to fatsos, freaks, weirdos alike. Don’t you worry
about your reputation? Don’t you get sick of being so perfect? Did
you see that shirt Penelope had on today? With the leather buckle and a cut out over her boobs? Can you say desperate. I know a Victoria’s Secret miracle bra when I see one.”

“Well, I wouldn’t wear something like that. But
still, I don’t think we should judge it. I think you’re jealous.”
Elizabeth sometimes wondered if her boyfriend Todd wasn’t happy with her 36 A’s, but she wasn’t the type of girl to burden others with her insecurities. She knew she ought to be grateful for her good looks.

“Moi? Jealous? When was the last time Penelope went on
a date with Bruce Patman? Or a date ever? I don’t see those
boobs getting her any.”
Jessica rolled her eyes, then finished putting on her mascara.

“Jessica, she’s a lesbian.” Elizabeth said.
“She’d never date Bruce Patman.”
Elizabeth sighed, picturing Todd’s strong, meaty hands. “I mean imagine how hard it must be, to be different.”

“Fine. You don’t see her dating Lila Fowler.”
Jessica said.

Elizabeth couldn’t help but giggle
at the thought of Lila Fowler, one of the richest girls
in all of Sweet Valley not shaving
her legs and holding hands with Penelope.

Jessica whipped off her high heels
and swaggered, “Look at me, I’m a lesbo.”

“Jess, you’re impossible!”
Elizabeth tossed the magazine at Jessica. She stood
up and walked daintily out of the messy room,
down the stairs of the split level
ranch house to grab a healthy snack from the kitchen.

She was very glad not to be a girl like Penelope.


What Happened to My Dream of a Perfect Butt

I wanted Christine’s ass. Even through baggy
nylon shorts, her butt reigned:
high, hard.

How did you get it? I asked. We
were in the parking lot
the May sky was paved with clouds.

Four exercises, she told me.
As much weight as you can stand,
do them until your legs shake.

At the Y, I use free weights
grunting guys and their exoskeleton muscles.
They nodded at me and I would want to shout

I didn’t used to look like this.
My legs and butt screamed too much

But I was furious at what the medication had done
to me. My orange peel legs, macaroni and cheese butt
lard-o, jelly on toast skin, sand after a rainstorm,

pockmarked, tree bark skin,
like cardboard left out in the rain. Those days
everything looked like cellulite. A numb spot
thrummed on my calf, then spread to my feet.

After the MRI, a doctor’s tired face explained
marble sized white dots
next to my discs. Spinal discs are like jelly donuts,
the outsides are like tires, he said. Your tire cracked
and the jelly leaked out of your donut.

Penelope Gay Dane is a queer-lesbian Louisianaified-Yankee, who earns her keep tutoring for the ESOL department at Hamilton College. She and her partner live in Clinton, NY where the snow glitters, the wind bites, and the sun hides. Her poetry has been published in This Assignment is So Gay: LGBTIQ Writers on the Art of Teaching. She is the 2015 winner of the William Faulkner Wisdom Essay contest.


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