>where did everyone go? and do i have to leave?


My First
Three six nine

We played clapping games in sixth grade,
wrote the names of the boys we liked

goose drank wine

on our bare legs. Lee was the first at everything,
daring enough to lift my skirt to find his name

monkey chewed tobacco

on my knee. Cool girls changed the names every other
week, but his was the only name I wrote on my skin.

on the street car line.

He was the first to hold my hand, the first
to kiss me at the show, Thoroughly Modern Millie.

Line broke

He could talk me into anything — I would have followed
him anywhere but my parents wouldn’t let me go

monkey got choked

when he asked me to go rafting with his brothers.
Spring run-off, they said. Submerged logs, driftwood snags-

and they all went to heaven in a little row boat.

too easy to drown this time of year.

(photo by W. O’Keefe)


About redmitten

author of Cracking Geodes Open, Making Good Use of August, and The Peppermint Bottle. poetry editor for IthacaLit. website: https://toomuchaugust.wordpress.com

5 responses to “>where did everyone go? and do i have to leave?

  1. >How interesting. Telling a story in poetry and intertwining it with an old hand clapping rhyme. I love it.

  2. >The hand-clapping rhyme sounds like what we used to have as jump rope rhymes. It is perfect, woven into the poem, and I want to be in sixth grade again with a name written above my knee. I want to write a name there all these years later, to see just how strong the conjure magic might be. I'll be careful what I ask for.

  3. >In about fourth or fifth grade, I wrote the name of a boy I liked on the bottom of my shoe and showed him. Trouble is, it said "I hate Michael."

  4. >I love this poem–just wonderful!

  5. >thanks all!hand-clapping games was so much fun and the names written above the knees were another sort of fun. yes, marylinn, we learn to be careful for what we ask for. i didn't realize how fast life got serious back then. annie, you've captured just what it was like to be 11 and 12. at least back then, eh?!

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