I was not a rebel
Just a mature sixteen-year old
In love with the “boy” next door
Whose friend came by in his ’52 Ford
And picked me up
That summer’s day
Joe’s friend Irwin
Best friends since kindergarten
Me sixteen
A junior in high school
They twenty-five
Joe a doctor
Irwin in textiles
Joe introducing us
Implying I’m in college
Irwin calling me
Two hours later
For a date
Me who never went out
With a boy who had a car
Whose mother forbade it
Now convinced her
To let me go
Provided Phyllis
My up-the-street college friendAlso went.
Joe’s father Benny
My father’s friend
Trying to assess
How much I knew about
The birds and the bees
A little concerned
With me going out that night
With Irwin, Phyllis, and her blind-date
Driving to the Staten Island ferry
Crossing the Narrows for a nickel
Then returning home
Walking me to my front door
Never kissing me
But being gentle, kind
Taking me to the beach
The next Saturday
Reading Keats
From his worn anthology
Of English verse
As we sat on his Army blanket
Then together folding it up
At the end of the day
When I decide to tell him
I am only sixteen
He saying with astonishment
Me asking
“What is that?”
Then embracing
Holding each other
On Brighton Beach
Embracing for eternity.

by Florence Ames

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