“Miss Lydia’s Dance School and Social Club” by Tobi Cogswell

Only blue house on the block
with graveled lawn for overflow
from neat curbs, addresses painted
with the American Flag in front,
a 5 dollar donation to a worthwhile
charity collected from and agreed upon
by all the neighbors, drunk or sober.

He left Miss Lydia with just the couch –
the rest of the downstairs spent to pay
off debts as he was running from a good
life to nowhere fast. Miss Lydia
mirrored the living room. Monday through
Thursday, town mothers sat on the couch,
watched their gawky daughters pose and preen.

On Friday nights Miss Lydia wrestled
ancient folding tables and yard-sale chairs.
Careful not to pinch herself she pushed
the couch against a mirrored wall,
got ready for cards. Admission
was a fifth of something hard and a pocket
of quarters. Miss Lydia bought mixers.

If gentlemen brought a liqueur they could stay
the night, fall asleep, the sweetly licoriced
whispers of Miss Lydia on their smile.
They all took turns bringing Sambuca
or Amaretto – never the same thing, never
the same Friday. Mornings meant poached
eggs, put away the tables and head on home,

their leftover winnings on the kitchen
counter – a donation for next Friday
when tablecloths would be white as the
panties just explored, smelling just
as sweet, their man-calendars marked
for when they could explore, once more,
the graceful and creative Miss Lydia.


Tobi Cogswell is a three-time Pushcart nominee and a Best of the Net nominee. Credits include or are forthcoming in various journals in the US, UK, Sweden, and Australia. Her fifth and latest chapbook is Lit Up (Kindred Spirit Press). She is the co-editor of San Pedro River Review (www.sprreview.com).

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