Red Hot Heart
by S. J. Perkins

Remembering Seventeen

I remember seventeen and the night you gave in, finally, to my kiss
Hanging out on the fifth hole of the golf course
Every weekend brought the same scene
Friends wander up with liquor and cloves
Drink awhile until Iím loose enough to imagine 
You feel the same way about me that I feel about you
Ripped inside out from desire
Tripped out when I close my eyes and repeat over and over
"Youíre in love with a girl, you are in love with another girl."

I push it out of my mind and come to you saying I need to talk
Youíre my best friend and you know Iím suffering 
You follow me out into the darkness one more time
Away from our group of friends
Knowing what will come next
I tell you that I love you, that I need you, that maybe if you just let me
Kiss you one time, Iíll get over it
Pretty creative strategy, 
For seventeen...

Our whole senior year we spent as lovers
Saturday mornings driving away from your house
Your scent on my fingertips made my brain fog up
Like the windshield of my Ď72 VW bus
With no middle seat, I would pick you up early for school
Find a quiet cul-de-sac, and lay a blanket down
The radio would play even with the engine off
You were so damn sexy at seventeen

You called late that night
"Iíll never make it a week without you."  
You cried into the phone, into my ear and broke my heart
I threw on some clothes and climbed out my bedroom window
Into the dark night with the keys to my momís station wagon in my pocket
VW buses create an unforgiving racket on a still suburban night

Your window opens when I tap lightly
We make love for hours, fall asleep together in your bed
A fatal oversight, an irreparable mistake 
I awake to your hands in my back, pushing me off the bed
I lay wedged between your mattress and the wall flat on my face on the rug
Your motherís hushed Italian accent calls from the other side of the door
"Is everything alright, Dear?  You should turn that radio off now, itís late."
I hazard a glance and my heart squeezes too hard
My shoes on the floor at the foot of your bed scream out my presence
Nothing will ever be the same again

The flight to New York the next morning is hell
The scene with your parents plays over and over in my mind
I dial your number from JFK and count the rings
Fifteen, sixteen, seventeen...
My team plays in stellar fashion, once again National Champs
I pack up my Speedo, goggles and towel and head for home
Unsure of what to expect

Shame prevents your family from calling me out
I get off lucky, untouched, untainted, still the perfect daughter
You get a new Camaro for your eighteenth birthday
Funny...not very long after you found a new boyfriend
Heís tall like me, drives a VW bus like me
Plays goalie (but heíll never stop as many shots as me)
He pleases your family though, I guess heís got me on that one
But heíll never love you the way I loved you
Heíll never make you laugh until you lose your breath
Heíll never risk a trip through your window in the middle of the night
Heíll never be seventeen with you

©S. J. Perkins

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