SENIOR PROM NIGHT (circa 1948)

Trembling in a cold sweat in front of a mirror rehearsing what to say

over the phone he awkwardly asks her to the prom.

When she agrees, he’s as ecstatic as if he’s won the Irish Sweepstakes.

He’s charmed by her dentine smile and beguiled by her being the only

one in class who knows what enjambment means.

He tries not to stare at her shapely nubile breasts flaunted in florescent

splendor in tight red sweaters.

Sitting on the bleachers while classmates play ball, he reads

“This Is My Beloved” to her. She giddily recites the poetry of

Kenneth Patchen.

Looking spiffy in a rented white tux, he hands her the proscribed

orchard corsage.

Returning home they cuddle on a front porch glider.

The scent of clematis ivy creeping up the wall merges with a surge

of incendiary sensations, tongues talk rapturously to each other,

a language new to both of them.

Soothing her eyebrows gently the way he learned to ease his mother’s

migraines, he tries not to think of what his concupiscent imagination

constructs: creamy lush thighs waiting for the attouchement of lust.

Frenzied, he wrestles with her bra, but she pleads no, no, no. If only

he could decipher the Chinese puzzle clasp on her back, she might

change her no to yes.

All that remains of that balmy Spring night is a Copacabana

black and white ashtray and the lingering tunes in his head

of Sinatra, Dean and Sammy.

Milton P. Ehrlich