“Just before we sleep, I stroke your back and begin a favorite fantasy, how we met each other when we were very young. Outside the Ritz movie theater in thick summer night, I am a slightly plump teenager, self-conscious in white short-shorts and sandals, waiting with friends to see Pillow Talk or Where the Boys Are. You are a stranger, the only person no one knows. (“What am I wearing?” you say. “Blue jeans, and a white t-shirt, and sneakers.” “Yes! How did you know?” “I do know you,” I say. You murmur, to yourself, “Did you really have on short-shorts then?”) Someone taunts you with where you are from, but you flirt with me in front of everyone. (And you in the present begin to talk to me: “What’s your name? What a pretty name. Will you take a walk with me?”)
The other boys and girls have done nothing but tease me about my name since we began school together when we were six. Suspicious, they watch me on the edge of something dangerous, talking to a strange boy, in the spill of light from the street lamp. Junebugs skid through the air and thud into us. Doris Day’s poster face, virginal and blonde, smiles secretively at us. I watch myself looking at you, wanting what I can’t even name. I ask you, “Are you really a boy?” And you say, “Yes….No.” We pay our fifteen cents to go sit in torn vinyl seats. You want to put your arm around me, but I say, “No, everyone is watching. Around here, that’s almost the same as getting married.” You hold my hand instead and whisper in my ear how sweet I am. I say, “You are too nice to be a boy.” Sometimes when we play at being teenagers, you coax me, “Please let me touch your breasts,” and my nipples heat up and then flare out in the fear of being touched. Then I begin to cry, bitter hot tears, wanting so badly to be a girl who had you for her first kiss, her first everything.”
i am usually partial to minnie bruce pratts poetry, like we say we love each other, but this prose is particularly devastating.