Eve F. W. Linn
Light, the color of light, that’s what I remember.
The light after a hot, cloudless day
when my skin smelled of chlorine and Coppertone,
fingers sticky with melted ice cream from a Good
Humor pop. The smooth pale stick from
Baltic birch, plunged into sweet vanilla melt
studded with crunch, I swept my tongue around
my teeth to get it all, all that I could
scavenge, leave nothing for later. Later I would
swallow his bitter gift almost choking, proud
I could, without vomiting. That hot
gush of someone’s future need.
I washed the easy afternoon away, stopping
to admire thin strips of white
skin left by bathing suit straps, my shoulder
sunburnt, stinging, just visible in the steam
fogged mirror above the porcelain
sink, scents of a body inching toward fullness,
furred crotch, armpits, vanished by Summer’s Eve and Secret
I wanted to stay in the tub, water cooling, one leg
just over the rim, my foot touching terry cloth,
my arm reaching for a towel, my baby
doll pajamas ironed smooth, the slap of rubber
flip-flops on the bare stairs. Dinner on the porch.
Now in the future that is the present, I remembered
I remember not shame, not exactly, but a
question, kept folded away–
Out that far beyond the deep end of the pool, where
the lifeguard would blow his whistle if he
thought you couldn’t swim.