You ever play naked? she asked,
hair smelling of Spider Lake and pinecones
I, five-and-a-half, Delores, seven, her eyes a feral grey.
Take down your pants, she said. Let’s smell butts.
Thrumming like a country wind
I pulled them down.
Bend over, she said.
I turned toward the dark forest
every inch of skin a hayride.
Her nose brushed my bottom.
Your turn, she said unveiling herself.
She smelled of silt and chalk and flesh.
If you put that in this
I’ll have a baby, she said.
Grownup voices wafted up the path.
We yanked our pants up and ran
back down the hill to the resort. I wanted more.
I wanted to inhale her coarse, sun-tangled hair.
Nights I writhed on mountains of imaginary Delores.
Mornings we flew like cherubs to the waterfront,
dashed across the dock, and splashed down in Spider Lake.
At the sandy bottom we peeled aside our
swimsuits and pissed a shimmering trombone yellow.
One morning after cherry-topped pancakes I whispered,
There’s no one in my room.
Tented by lilacs we strolled to my cabin
where we lay, the smell of breakfast in our hair.
My brother zombied into view,
I’M TELLING MOM!
Next day I awoke to my mother.
I know you and Delores are friends.
(My dear mother, just and fair)
But I’d like you to play with the other children.
Later my brother’s chums took me
for a ride out on Spider Lake in a dinghy,
dropped anchor, and stalled in the calm.
Tell us about Delores, they leered,
Or we’ll swamp and you’ll drown.
I told them. Everything.
I never saw Delores again.
In later years, every so often
in a park, at school, the most innocent of places
a teenage boy approaches
and whispers in my ear,
Tell me, how’s Delores?