(This version has been edited since it was first posted.)
The Shortest Girl in My Sixth Grade Class…
… Little Ginger, liked me
though I was tallest.
Since she’d play tackle football
with me and my two
and her pa gave us
rides in his Diamond Reo
and said it was okay
for us to play
Little Richard records,
I liked her right back.
Carol, soft and wavy,
where Ginger was hard and wiry,
Carol of the black hair over her shoulder
liked me, too, and I liked the way she
blushed when we slow danced.
Come Christmas, since they were equal
in my affections, I bought them
with my paper-route profits
identical bottles of cologne
in silvered plastic sleighs.
By ninth-grade Ginger had caught pregnancy
from some other guy.
“What about Carol?” I wonder.
Did she manage to escape
the imperatives of glossy black hair,
of hunger, of rock and roll rhythms that
tore at the heart?