HONORABLE MENTION: SLUMBER PARTY, 1952
By Mary E. O’Dell
We’re on Nancy’s porch,
the six of us,
wild with summertime,
drunk on heat and humidity
and feeling invincible
for we’re all driving now.
We’ve recently been seen
flying down that curvy road
to the frozen custard stand
after which we were ratted on
by the cute guy who works for my daddy,
so I’m the one
who got called on the carpet.
But here we are past that fiasco
and on to new thrills.
It’s two a.m. and we’re piled on blankets,
mid-century innocent of sexual confusion,
just a bunch of girls
giggling and smoking cigarettes,
which afterward we fieldstrip with expertise,
sprinkling the spent tobacco
into the lush summer grass
and rolling the paper into pellets
we flip into the yard
to be melted by coming rain.
After the cigarettes (filched from dads
and the farthest thing from the minds of our mothers)
we have a darker plan:
down the street and around the bend
is the swimming pool. Its face gleams black
in the light of a salacious moon.
When it’s late enough that parents
are sleeping or otherwise occupied,
we creep toward this illicit destination.
Arriving at the pool, we hesitate,
contemplate the 12-foot fence,
then climb, monkey-toed, to the top,
where, with meticulous care,
we negotiate the deadly crown of barbed wire.
Then it’s down the other side,
down to the summer-warm cement
and the shedding of shorts and shirts,
of each other’s breasts and small triangles
blonde and brown.
Then the slide into that dark gleam,
the stir of pulses low in our bellies,
the silky suck of water.
This night is not about cigarettes or stealth.
It is not about mothers
and what they pretend they do not know.
It is about this water,
these bodies, together
in this water.