“Taffeta” by Ellen Saunders


On February 9th, 1964, the “British Invasion” swept America as the Beatles appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show for the first time; that summer, the Rolling Stones pushed the Invasion all the way to Nebraska, performing at the Omaha Civic Auditorium (still a fixture in Omaha’s downtown today) during their first American tour. In Lincoln that February, the average temperature was 31.3°F with a low of 8°F and less than one total inch of precipitation. Ellen Saunders uses the Beatles as a cultural touchstone in her poem “Taffeta,” published by the Prairie Schooner in the summer of 2009. Tory Clower


Ellen Saunders



As a girl, she perfected the fox-trot

in the hotels of St. Louis. A taffeta

skirt circled her ankles, its swishing sound

followed her as she moved across the high

ceilinged room with crystal chandeliers,

the sounds of Glen Miller. Raven hair fell

down her shoulders, her eyes like sapphires.

Too soon, she married, moved to suburbia,

had seven children, and ceased to dance.

She wore cotton skirts until she discovered

no-iron polyester. The Beatles blasted

from her radio. But she never forgot

the dance, the way she was wrapped

in taffeta the color of peaches.