What a little angel she is
Whisper the Jewish Sunday-school ladies behind gloved hands
As I flounce down the hall
All dressed up in my blue silk party dress, the one with the frills on the bottom
Another gift from Daddy’s friends in Chicago
A special dress for a special girl like you
My proud parents beam with pride when I stand behind the microphone in the school auditorium:
Oh, say can you see . . .?
The only first-grader allowed up on stage
What good manners she has
The waitress at the diner smiles over the counter at me when I ask for a straw
These are the three keys—thank you, you’re welcome, and may I please
Hands pressed together firmly each Yom Kippur
Oh God and Father, creator of Heaven and Earth, I penitently acknowledge my sins . . .
I can’t bear to tell a lie, come home crying if I do
Mommy, Mommy, I was the one who took the last cookie from the jar!
I wish that God made more little girls like you, sighs the mother of Jack Davidson, who got expelled from my school for punching a kid in the stomach
Would you care for a cupcake?
No, thank you. My mother says it has too much sugar.
Want a bag of chips?
No, thank you. My mother says they have no nutritional value.
I come home proud and happy from school
The blinding red A-plus in the corner of my drawing too hard not to notice
Have you ever thought of putting your daughter in the gifted class?
Time for the school play
I stand in the wings in my blue-and-white-checked dress, dark hair twisted into two neat braids
All ready to go on, dance my way down the yellow-brick road
Somewhere over the rainbow, way up high, there’s a land that I heard of, once in a lullaby . . .
How talented she is! Everybody tells me
But “Nothing gold can stay,” my mother recites every time someone tells me I’m an angel,
Shakes her head and glances sadly out at the setting sun,
Puffy white clouds fading away into the dusk.
Straight out of Heaven.