beauty contest

Beauty Pageant in Sarajevo
Margaret Szumowski

The young girls believe
as they parade before my eyes.
They know I have the power
to recognize beauty.

Lana floating, soft as spring leaves
in Sarajevo Park, Biljana's legs scarred
by shrapnel, but slim and curved.
We judges enjoy their willowy forms.

Low-cut silk over delicate breasts.
Where did she get the silk? I ask
and her mother smiles.

What clothing does a fashionable woman
require? Is virginity important?
What kind of man could you love?

They hold out their arms like children
selling flowers from the family garden.
They hold out their bodies,

step forward on the runway,
speechless chorus,
slowly raising a large, white banner.

not kill us