Books by Diane Frank

Swan Light


In Ms. Matsumoto’s home living class,
we learned how to sit with our legs crossed.
Three times a week,
during fifth period at middle school,
we learned her version of ladylike manners.
On her clutch of neatly arranged
Japanese sofas and chairs,
we learned to converse like geishas.
We prepared and served small trays of hors d’oeuvres
crackers with cheese and pickles arranged in a trident,
and learned to eat them slowly.
Under her tutelage, I developed a lifelong
love of the Triscuit.

We constructed gingham aprons
and were forced to baste every stitch
even though I already knew how to use
the Singer sewing machine at home.
Everything took twice as long as my attention span,
and I didn’t learn how to sew anything I would wear
until I brought a pattern to Grandma Helen’s farm
for a circle skirt made of cotton
printed with pictures of musical instruments.

We were all butterflies
circling the halls of our education,
but I am convinced that no one learns manners
until their shining star
has circled around the sun many times.
A girl in seventh grade does not know
how her actions knock against the world
and ricochet into the fractal
of human feelings. Or how a joyful word
can make a stranger smile for the next ten years.
We wore fishnet stockings, red sandals and miniskirts.
A girl in seventh grade does not know
the power of her heartbreaking beauty.

— Diane Frank