A novel in verse … and the writing thereof
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Dancing into a Corner

I’d forgotten how small

     Sacramento was. We found ourselves in a crowd, and

     there was Ruby from my high school class, beaming, toasting everyone.

“I’m getting married!” she announced.

“Congratulations! Who’s the lucky guy?”

“Tom, here. He promised to

     take me to the city. That, and away from my mother.”

Just then, a slow song started, and Cory

     held out his hand. I just stared.

“Come on,” he said, and touched my arm.

We moved away from the others, took a turn or two.

His hands on my back felt like weights.

Then he said, “Don’t worry. We won’t make that mistake.”

“What mistake?”

“Getting married to the first person who comes along.”

“Won’t we?” I sounded fierce, I know;

I felt savage. “Isn’t that

exactly what we’re doing?”

“If it was, we’d be married already or at least

     shacked up, wouldn’t we?”

I blushed. No man had ever said such words to me.

Only he could say them and sound

not crude, but loving.

“I guess so.” But I wasn’t happy.

“Hey,” he said, leaning back as we moved,

     so he could look me in the face. “What’s up? Why’d she

     get to you like that? They aren’t us.”

“I felt,” I said, and had to start again. “It was

     like hearing myself think. Right down to the mother.”

“Hey,” he said, “hey.” He drew me close.

I spoke against his neck.

“We both have other reasons

     to be together. Me wanting to get out, you wanting

     what, a war trophy?”

“What a prize I won.”

But I’d not be swept off my feet, not tonight.

“Sometimes it’s a little too like

     a marriage of convenience.”

“Oh, I don’t know. It doesn’t seem so

     convenient to me.” He ducked my slap and went on,

     “Motives are always mixed,

     don’t you think?”

He let me think about that, turning to the music

     for a moment. Then, “Anyway, if it’s convenient,

     that doesn’t make it evil, does it?”

“No, of course not. But somehow—“

“Listen,” he said. “We were lucky. I didn’t get shot up,

     you didn’t die of some infection in that hospital,

     and then we found each other. You can

     spend your life feeling guilty about that,

or you can spend it feeling grateful. Personally,”

     he said, hands moving on my back,

“I’d vote for grateful.”

So would I, I thought, if I were sure

     it were a matter of choice.

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