Her Quinceañera

by Lynn Doiron
Poetry Circle
Second Place, September 2010
Judged by Ruth Ellen Kocher

That five-story billboard of Corona cerveza
on the face of eight-story hotel Festival Plaza
is cheesy to the point of charming—most days.
Tonight, it’s enchanting. Curbside, she’s disembarked
from her carriage cocoon, a long limousine,
discarded. A flutter of balloon-skirted girls,
all their dresses snowy white, circle, as if
she’s the rose queen of a singular garden.
Shoulders bare, a gown of pink burnished gold,
tiara, four inches of diamond light blooming
from rich coffee hair—she glows and seems
aware. That courtyard beyond Festival’s doors
says this night is hers, festooned in firefly
lights and white gifts for seasons
of being. Now her fingers press down
the volumes of gathers,
her attendants hush their buzz,
the youths in their white tuxedos
straighten buttoned vests and shoulders.
She is moving from sidewalk
inside, that girl that is now woman,
hands loosely quiet, open,
a bevy of wings at her back.

This poem represents a perfect marriage between the fantastic world we imagine and the concrete world in which we live. The poem accomplishes this pairing in a seemingly effortless execution of rich imagery and sparse language that demonstrates an accomplished ability to navigate the lyric narrative. What I enjoy most here is the simplicity of description. The writer takes enough small risks to elevate the language from something typical to something imbued with a sparse yet effective sense of the magical. Magic is no easy game in the lyric poem and can easily be over-done, over-emphasized, and over-wrought, but this writer handles the difficult task with great skill. The right of passage poem can also easily be typical, and yet here, we have "a bevy of wings," "a diamond light blooming," and "the rose queen of a singular garden," all images which illuminate the piece. I appreciate, as well, that the poem doesn't take itself too seriously (Festival Plaza --/is cheesy to the point of charming) which might well be the greatest triumph in a poem that invests so much in a singular, tender moment. --Ruth Ellen Kocher