Afraid I Was, Until That One Long Summer Between Fifteen and Sixteen

When woods drew up dry

like puckered lips, we went 

down to the river to drink 

and sunbathe and be queens 

like queens of old and do nothing 

with our lives but proclaim 

and proclaim This beer is mine 

and mine is yours and yours is mine,

laughing our heads back 

like we were lemon wedges

about to be sucked or twisted

into a drink to sweeten up

the heat of a dry dry afternoon socket

of wood and river and river 

and wood. The heat. All 

what could be slaked 

was slaked with beer, 

with smoke, with tears, with jokes 

as our sweat sweated, beads

multiplying upon beads, a shimmer 

of relentless damp, a shimmer

of glamour among teens. Jenny 

would pee standing up, proclaiming

I am a king and I am a queen. All 

you see is mine! And who best 

to answer back, but her own voice 

in opposition. My laughter 

did not even shatter the echo,

not even a little bit. Jenny showed

me how by tucking my hair behind 

my ears and holding my face

in her hands. When she kissed me

courage welled up. In her hands,

I melted easy. Heat and drink, body 

of water, going on and on, summer’s leg 

bone extending into autumn, all

the way down to winter’s toes.

What are you looking for?