National Poetry Month Day 20: Jacqueline Allen Trimble








The first time I saw a man

naked, I was wearing pink 

pajamas.  The flammable kind

before those were forbidden 

to children.  A little satin bow, 

pre-tied and dotted with a rosebud, 

punctuated my collar stretched wide 

from washings and ringed by stiff

synthetic lace.  My mother had bought them 

a week before she died, and I wore them 

despite the prickly  nylon that  bunched  

strangely and snagged odd bits 

of tiny things.  My hair stood 

in uncombed tufts.  My fingernails dirty 

from shooting marbles  on the red clay road 

with the boys.  Nobody gonna marry 

a Tomboy, girl.  I kept playing, crouching low 

at the angle of launch, to watch 

the beautiful man-made rock bounce 

among the pebbles as intensely 

as I had watched the window

high above me in the den.  

It was long and wide, a slice of light 

breaking through in whirly ques 

of dust.  The sofa was brown plaid.  The walls 

dark-paneled fake wood.

The space heater still smelled 

of melting plastic where, innocent of fire’s

ways,  I had tended  a small meal for my dolls.

My father put ointment on my hand 

without a heart to scold, the same hand 

a doctor would years later ask 

if I had ever broken. Honestly, I could not say, 

neither knowing  the complete history 

of violence against my body nor how

in a brown den lit by a window too high

for my father to fathom where 

he stood outside laughing 

with a neighbor, a friend of his 

happened to lower his trousers and rub 

himself against me and my pink pajamas, 

long abandoned to some place

I will never precisely recall.



Author photo courtesy of author

Jacqueline Allen Trimble lives and writes in historic Montgomery, Alabama. She is a National Endowment for the Arts Creative Writing Fellow, a Cave Canem Fellow, and an Alabama State Council on the Arts Literary Fellow. Her poetry has appeared in various journals including Poetry Magazine, The Louisville Review, The Offing, and Poet Lore. Published by NewSouth Books, American Happiness, her debut collection, won the 2016 Balcones Poetry Prize. Trimble is Professor of English and chairs the Department of Languages and Literatures at Alabama State University. Her new collection, How to Survive the Apocalypse, is forthcoming from NewSouth Books in April 2022. More from this author →