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The Babysitter

Debra Kaufman

She breezed in, chewing clove gum,
slung her sparkly bag on our new couch,
this teenager I'd never seen before,
Donna or Diana, the name of a girl in a song.
She wore white pedal pushers
and a pink angora sweater.
Want to look pretty? Of course I did.
Opening her bag, she brushed blush
on my cheeks, dabbed on some
green eye shadow. Don't tell your mom.
She played a stack of 45s she'd brought.
Just like “Down in the Boondocks,”
her boyfriend came from the wrong side of town.
She showed me his ring on the chain
around her neck. When she was my age
she'd had rheumatic fever, which I heard
as romantic, which had damaged her heart,
which is why she cried just thinking about
her mother saying something bad about Sal.
We danced ourselves dizzy, then watched
The Twilight Zone. I fell asleep in my clothes.
At breakfast, pouring my father's coffee,
my mother said, That girl left glitter
all over my linoleum floor.

Debra Kaufman is the author of the poetry collections God Shattered, Delicate Thefts, The Next Moment, and A Certain Light, as well as three chapbooks and many monologues and short plays, and four full-length plays.

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