First day of high school, 1970

It’s a new decade, a new school,
my first ride on the yellow bus
full of suburban strangers.
I look for a place to hide
this intrusive bumbershoot,
trying to decide between hair
and general flair. A sleepless night
on giant rollers tips the scales
and so I duck my head
into invisibility, hoping
tomorrow will be a sunny day.

My friend Sonja Headley challenged me to write a poem about Marie-Bashkirtseff’s painting, “The Umbrella,” and I thought of the song by the Hollies and the general silliness of my youth in contrast to the serious nature of the painting. (Yes, I would have known the word bumbershoot at that young age.)

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