I love wandering the aisles of Flora-Dec and Party City
Stopping here and there,
You think this is aimless, which is why I go alone
And why you should go to Home Depot without me.
It is a meditative walk for both of us,
Done solo is best for what transformation is possible.
On a recent walk-about
I think of trick-or-treating long after my classmates stopped,
Being short let me get away with that
Wearing my Ojichan’s s old gaberdine pants, coat, and white shirt,
I blackened my front teeth with nori
Rubbed dirt on my face and wore his old hat
It made Ojichan laugh and eased his pain from cancer.
Years later, I was a pirate, yes,
I was a Johnny Depp look-alike one year,
An Indian maiden another time,
My fringed fake suede shift, braids, and moccasins
Prompted people in the elevator to ask what tribe I belonged to, seriously.
Back in the day, my staff and I dressed up for the high holiday
And we marched around to the children’s ward
Our best effort was the Sesame Street gang,
My home-made Big Bird costume earned me catcalls from drivers,
Hey! Small Bird!
The best costumes are from my closet
Coming out when it’s not even Halloween,
I surprised my friend’s daughter on her 16th birthday
Appearing as Madame Joyaaa, the psychic gypsy with her magic orange,
The crystal ball was being serviced, you see,
My friend marveled she had seen all of Madame Joyaaa’s clothes at one time or another at work.
For my coming-of-age party at the age of fifty
I was Cruella de Vil, complete with shift and wig divided into halves of black and white,
Red gloves and cigarette holder,
Free to step outside of everyday personas, some friends came in surprising outfits,
Others came in almost normal day or ethnic clothes
I don’t judge; I love them all.
I aspired to be a clown, so I went to clown school,
Really, it was a week of class on how to be a clown,
Clowns have schticks, a story gag personalized,
I got the schtick, my name was Sparkle
Failure came because I couldn’t blow those long skinny balloons fast enough
And when filled with air
I couldn’t twist and turn them into dogs, horses, giraffes
I was too afraid it would pop.
Even so, there’s magic to masks, wigs, and costumes
Transforming me into an alter ego,
Or maybe, my real self feels free to emerge
Without all the proper behavior expected of me.