Ozzie and Harriet and the Debutante of 1938

Doug Holder

This poem is based on Dianne Arbus' photo: "The Debutante of 1938"

A cigarette
hangs languidly
from her clawed hand-
Her head tilted
in patrician amusement
her tortured eyelashes
flare out –
pricks of disdain.

Ozzie and Harriet
appear on the lawn
joined at the hip
blending into blandness
their smiles
hollow posturing for the
lens –

And there is the girl
eleven years old
so stiff
trapped in a crocheted
cocktail dress
a child
forced in a cage
of carnal contours.

The shutter
has long since clicked
and closed
the many doors.