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Edith Wharton’s Age of Innocence by T. C. Mills

New Year’s Eve in Central Park: the flat lake an apricot
before Lucky Cheng’s where our transvestite waitress

brings a crown of balloons pinched and twisted
like circus dogs. How quiet we get when they dance,

these new women laying their hands down their flat thighs
and rose feathers trailing from silver heels. Real, real:

the age of innocence begins in an opera box
and ends with a dark-haired woman’s apartment

window. Or the age of innocence begins with my cousin
holding a green razor between her legs

in my bedroom after not eating the Easter cake
we made with egg whites and almonds,

my hair wrapped in a fist at my neck.
Or the age of innocence begins with rehearsing

Wagner, violins lost in Tristan und Isolde, the conductor’s
hands pulling the shirt off no one in front of him.



Posted 01/25/12
This poem first appeared in the Indiana Review, v. 29 n.1 (Summer 2007)
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