Travelers Welcome

Travelers Welcome

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Ribbons & Pearls

by Brandy Clark

Whispers, snarls, cussing. Who the hell 
does he think he is? two elderly women spat out
as they passed, not bothering to keep
their voice at the polite levels people often do
when being critical. I slowed in my walk

down the aisle of the store to see a man,
a purse slung over one arm, a purposeful stride
carrying him through the women’s clothing section.
The man wearing red lipstick applied
with the greatest of care, white pearls

clinging to his neck (a decorative rope),
and a towering teased-up bouffant, dried
hairspray clinging to every strand of hair.
The man, now picking through the gaudy
ten-dollar blouses hanging on the racks,

harbored less confidence
than he’d shown moments before.
He cleared his throat, adjusted his purse,
leaned down to tug at the ecru pantyhose
clinging to his calves. I must admit, he had nice legs.

Our town, situated along the notches of the Bible Belt,
did not appreciate difference or those
unwilling to fit into unspoken ideals, expectations
no one could ever reach, or hope to reach.
His ideals meant selecting bright and colorful

outfits, and painting his fingernails a shade
that matched his lipstick. Fingers:  long,
slender, not meant to do a man’s work,
played with the pearls encircling his neck.
He must have felt someone staring, so he looked

in my direction. I nodded, smiled, gave
him a quick hello. He returned the greeting
before turning and walking away, away
from the people who chose to ridicule,
to shame him. He left before I had
the chance to say anything more.

Those pearls were beautiful.
I wanted to tell him that.


  1. I enjoyed this poem as well, Brandy.

  2. Again, thank you Marianne. It is humbling to hear that people like and appreciate my work.