While sorting through some poems, trying to spiff up my old manuscript and possibly pull together a new one, I discovered a pack of poems I wrote in college. They're fairly lousy, but I love this one. It certainly doesn't foreshadow any great writing career, but I love it mostly because I'm so much further away from sixteen now than I was when I wrote it, and now I have teenage children of my own. Sheesh. I have to laugh at myself-- and remember that, with any luck, in twenty years I'll be laughing at my thirty-eight-year-old self, too.
We painted our lips cotton candy pink
and drove your dad's '65 Ford
(the one with the broken radio)
past the cows resting their weight
against the evening grass
and down the highway
to the county fair.
We screamed our laughter from the ferris wheel,
giggled past toothless men in booths
shouting, "Come on over pretty ladies
ball in the basket, three tries for a dollar!"
I think we understood, even then,
about growing up, bills, marriage, babies,
our lives moving in different directions.
But that July night, hot enough to melt
snow cones to a blue stain on our hands,
as the bright lights flashed around us,
we didn't think about tomorrow, or our mothers
who waited under porch lights.
That night, we were forever sixteen years old,
and you, always my friend.