Side by side we sat at the player piano banging out

endless repetition of chords to “Heart and Soul”

and “Chopsticks” in the Bungalow Colony Casino.

While the rain beat down on the roof we’d amuse

ourselves with the pin-ball machine, playing

ping-pong and favorite tunes on the juke box.

For two weeks every summer we were playmates

on vacation, now pre-pubescent as my grandma

tactlessly pointed out, noticing your budding breasts.

Sometimes we just sat on the porch glider, swinging

back and forth on long afternoons that drifted by

like pristine white clouds barely moving

in the hush and heat of a mid-day broiling sun.

We ran through cornfields never tiring of playing

hide and seek, giggling, silly as only kids can be.

Only when you almost stepped on a black and red

striped milk snake did you stop in fright, your face

blanching white until I cornered the snake

with an improvised forked stick.

Your freckled face and strawberry blonde pig tails

were as radiant as the overgrown sunflowers

I gathered to make a bouquet for you.

Evenings, we could hear the clicking of Mah-Jongg tiles

and shuffling of pinochle cards of our parents

in the next room; later, they listened on the Philco

to Kaltenborn and Murrow’s report of the London Blitz.

We fooled around in our pajamas, titillated by

searching for what we thought were salacious

stories in the Reader’s Digest, whispering in muffled

hysteria when we came upon a word that hinted at sex.

Growing up with brothers and no sister I had an urgent

curiosity to see your private parts but was too afraid to ask,

resigned to catching a glimpse of what I figured must be

a strand of pubic hair.

I’ve often wondered if only our vacation could have lasted more

than two weeks I might have had a better chance to have a look.