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Slacks - Jill Bronfman

When they told me to act like a lady

When I was angry

I sewed her aphorism into my skirt hem

And pulled her stockings over mine

To guard against the cold

We were not allowed to wear slacks

In my law school class, the two women sat in the front row

But we soon realized that we needed to wear scarves

Not, this time, the cold,

But the men behind us, above us

Looking down

Could see the color of our bras

(They were always white)

I applied for every job that my classmates wanted

My shoes matched my bags

My resume was printed on cream stationery

With fine ink and a font that implied fastidiousness

Once I watched the paper float like a parachute

Into the wastebasket as I left

There was work, there was standing

By the time I was old, I was an icon

For my wit, wisdom, widowhood

For all of the times I said no, not here, not now

Not if you want to live.


Jill Bronfman is a professor, lawyer, non-profit worker, and parent. She placed second in the Joan Ramseyer Memorial Poetry Contest in 2020. Her work has been accepted for publication in Rougarou, Ruminate Magazine, The Write Launch, The Decadent Review, The Halcyone, 82 Review, The Passed Note, Storgy, Verbal, Kallisto Gaia, Main Street Rag, High Desert, Flying Ketchup, Carcosa, Genre: Urban Arts, Ripples in Space, Mothers Always Write, Talking Writing, Coffin Bell Journal, Flock, Wanderlust Journal, Quiet Lightening, and law and technical books and periodicals. She has performed her work in Poets in the Parks, The Basement Series, and LitQuake, and had her story about a middle-aged robot produced as a podcast.


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