We never spoke, which made him perfect,
this blond haired boy in my choir class.
It was the first winter my father stayed in bed.
On the school bus older girls stuck chewed cherry
Bubble Yum in my hair and poked me with tampons.
At home my father called, Rachel, come lay by me.
I said I had homework and sat in my small pink room
where I wrote in lumpy cursive
my daily Todd Report. What he wore: a white tee-shirt
with a smiley face, a green parka. What he ate: tuna
on white bread, banana chips. I sketched
his bowl cut and planned our wedding.
We would exchange vows in a cemetery
on the Ides of March or Alexandria in October.
Our children would be named Sophia and Ivan.
He would be a writer and I a poet.
I called his number, held the cold
black receiver against my ear to see
if he would answer. If it was his mother or sister
I said wrong number but if it was his own husky voice
cracking on the other end, I just breathed. My heart
pounded until my father called: Rachel, come talk to me.
Poets in the Schools
This is Jeremy. This is the apartment
where I lay naked on the quilt
left over from his ex-wife’s first marriage
and stained with my menstrual blood,
where Jeremy played this song.
But today I sit in a room full of 8th graders.
One lies on her belly, a pink
pillow against her new breasts.
I wonder if she is sleeping.
There are thumbtacks in the walls
and yesterday’s torn Valentines on the carpet.
We are writing to music, making
sensible choices. I have not had sex
in three months and I have started wearing lip gloss.
Do I miss those raw days,
Jeremy drinking until he pissed
the bed, me tripping
home from Horsehead, breaking my teeth?
These girls wear braces. Their mothers
worry about them drinking. I am the queen
of positive decisions. I smile until my jaw aches.