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A novel in verse … and the writing thereof
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Longing

That spring, the paper had a photograph of girls

in shorts, around a campfire. One

had a guitar. Their mouths

were open, in laughter, in singing.

It was like falling in love, hopelessly,

     with a married man.

“Pshaw,” said my mother, turning the page.

“Wait—” I said, but she kept

     a firm grip.

“Why do girls want to act like boys?” she

     marveled, glancing back. “Look at those legs! She

     shouldn’t be seen in public in shorts.”

“She’s hardly in public,” I said, “in the woods.”

“She’s in the paper,” Mother replied dryly.

“Maybe,” said Father, leaning over our shoulders,

     “maybe she hadn’t planned on being photographed when she

     selected her wardrobe for that outing.”

I saw the corner of Mother’s mouth quirk as though to laugh, but

     she kept her gaze steady on the paper.

Father leaned closer, his arm

     resting on Mother’s shoulder, his head by her ear as he pointed

     at another girl: “Look at her; those are lower appendages

     worthy of pause.

     Almost as nice as yours.”

This time she couldn’t stop her mouth from smiling. I’d

     slipped to the door, but saw her slap at his arm with the paper;

“Go on with you,” she said. “I’m an old lady.”

“We’ll test that hypothesis,” he replied, standing,

     “at the earliest opportunity. Linda?”

“Yes?”

“Will you stay with your brother this Friday?

     I’m taking your mother dancing.”

Later, I pulled the paper from the trash, cut that picture out and put it on my wall.

“Why did you tape that up?” she asked.

“I like it,” was all I found to say.

“All right then, I can’t stop you,” she said.

She’d lost or abandoned much of her rage, of late.

That picture stayed there to taunt and tempt me ’til

     I left home at last.

I took it with me

     when I went.

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