Sweet Sixteen Circa 1948


A barest hint of spring in the air,

riding home in a lurching school bus with

Mickey Barbero, a classmate in art.

Once caught my name writ large in

calligraphy in a sketchpad she carried around.

She had long flowing hair,

eyes as black as bituminous coal

and the fragrance of Freesia from LaJolla.

With the sun shining in from the back of the bus

her zirconium earrings were blinding my eyes

as she claimed it wouldn't hurt a bit

if I allowed her to make a mold of my face.


Lying flat on my back with straws up my nose

she straddled my body like a black widow spider.

Helplessly swaddled like a new born babe

I devoured her scent like a celibate monk

as I claustrophobically waited for the plaster to dry,

patiently hoping the cast was perfect

in order to earn the promised reward:

A tango lesson before her parents came home.