the Kingston Trio would have worn had they been us.
After we played our first show in the cafeteria,
four of the bustiest girls in our school ran up
and squealed, “You sound exactly like the Trio!”
What were they talking about? None of us could
sing at all. We should have practiced more
and squabbled less. The best thing you could say
about us is that we didn’t forget any of the words
and that we more or less began and ended together.
Other than that, we were terrible. I’d never been
happier in my life. We played another dozen dates
or so, and then Al’s uncle proposed he take us
on the road for the summer to play in the school gyms
of towns so isolated that people who couldn’t make it
to Vicksburg or Montgomery to hear real musicians
might actually pay to hear us. But our mothers said no;
they gave no reasons, but I’m guessing
they saw us falling into the clutches of hard women, desperate
small-town divorcées who’d introduce us to cigarettes,
underage drinking, and worse. I wanted worse.
I wanted to kiss an older woman, somebody
who was twenty-eight, say, even thirty, a blond
in capri pants and heels, her top sliding off
one shoulder, her smoky breath in my face
and then her lips on mine like a hot wind, the one desert dwellers
call samoon, which means poison
because others drop dead at its approach, but not me,
who is wrapped by it, lifted, my mouth sprung
by a kiss like lightning, a flash that spreads and spreads
and stays as I feel each thing that will
happen in my life from this moment on, the way those wrecked
and underwater follow a train of images
until they sink, and the darkness returns, and they’re free.