Eunice de Souza: Sweet Sixteen

Sweet Sixteen

Well, you can’t say

they didn’t try.

Mamas never mentioned menses.

A nun screamed: You vulgar girl

don’t say brassieres

say bracelets.

She pinned paper sleeves

onto our sleeveless dresses.

The preacher thundered:

Never go with a man alone

Never alone

and even if you’re engaged

only passionless kisses.
At sixteen, Phoebe asked me:

Can’t it happen when you’re in a dance hall

I mean, you know what,

getting preggers and all that, when

you’re dancing?

I, sixteen, assured her

you could.

—Eunice de Souza.