The Shortest Girl in My Sixth-Grade Class…

(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

roughandtough brothers,

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?




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I've been writing mostly poetry for many years and have gotten a number of works accepted in publications and anthologies. I'm most interested in communicating with poets for whom craft is a high priority. I enjoy finding and commenting on poetic gems in other people's work. For my own work, I welcome polite comments, whether positive or critical.

2 thoughts on “The Shortest Girl in My Sixth-Grade Class…”

  1. I like story poems, and I like how you set this one up so that I was curious as to whom you chose or ended up with: Ginger, or Carol. Good stories and lives have their twists and turns: neither. The end of Ginger seemed to be in 9th grade, and still wondering about Carol. It’s interesting that one relationship seems all shared activity (football, riding in the Reo, playing records), and the other more physical attraction. (I’ll guess you eventually and ultimately found both.) I like the stanza about your buying two identical Christmas colognes with your paper route money; succinctly and without hitting me over the head I’ve learned you were enterprising, sweet, thoughtful, and egalitarian, shown rather than told, which is how we writers are supposed to do it. Well done. The end of Ginger seemed to be in 9th grade, and still wondering about Carol. This is in turns sad and intriguing, and of course… true to life. A bittersweet slice.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for your thoughtful and insightful comments. It amazes me that I never saw how my relationships with the two girls were based on different things. I think that you are being very kind to call my gift-giving rationale “egalitarian.” I was indeed trying to do “the right thing,” but if the two girls compared gifts, I would likely have bruised the feelings of both. Sometimes our best intentions… I do think about both of them. I can’t imagine how difficult it was for Ginger to have a child so young, especially in 1958, when girls who got pregnant simply “disappeared.” As well, Carol’s life could have been difficult, since attractiveness can be a curse as much as a blessing. I hope that they both have had lives rich in fulfillment.

      Liked by 1 person

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