your cackle caught me like a fish hook
i was mesmerized by your audacity on that black & white set
your skinny legs
like mine

oh! your wild hair do
how dare you
in a time of Donna Reed and Patty Duke?

was it true we could be like you
stand right there laugh at the world
take the stage in all our girlness?

you were the first in my world
–the first i ever saw–
to stand there waving a cigarette holder
brave enough to be a fool
opening the door for us
didn’t wait for a man
to open it for you

you popped my imagination
awake from captain kangaroo
rubbed my ridiculous side
incited my incredulous side

you gave a few girls like me some guts, phyllis
some notion
that we could grow up
a little broader
than the women before us

you showed us how to walk a crooked line
to begin
to set everything straight

A smile is a crooked line that sets everything straight.
–Phyllis Diller