Susan Lilley Winter Park (Gianna Russo)
First you learn that after a certain age
you should no longer suck
your thumb in public. Nor should you
wear yard pants with no shirt
or answer the phone “who is it?”
Later, if becomes clear
you should not beat soda machines
or eat all the peppermint ice cream
or make out on the carpet
until you edges shriek
with burning. Then comes a time
you should not untie the top
of your bathing suit while lying in
the sun. The sun! A star that once lavished
its lovelight upon you. The sun,
that stole your beauty one day and moved on,
like a lover changing the locks
while you’re at the grocery store.
There is an age past which you much
not flirt with anyone except babies. Not
bartenders, musicians, nor fellow travelers.
You don’t need to ask for directions;
the future is deforested. But now
you can roll down the car windows,
listen to Etta James or Cat Power
as loud as you want, love
without losing the hard
jewel under your ribs.
Your scent is the honey
of loyalty. You can lie on a picnic
blanket with your girlfriends
at an art festival, drink wine from a Solo cup,
command the air to turn
from clear to sapphire.
You may dance in a pool
of shade by a darkening lake
and smoke pot with your oldest friend.
no one is paying any attention
Originally published in American Poetry Review