The Dirt Road
by Terri Kirby Erickson

Circling the dirt road, feet bare,
we compared notes about the boys we thought were cute
though we were far too young and bony yet,
for them to notice. Sixteen at least,
they cruised the same few blocks, suntanned arms dangling
from the driver’s side of their daddies’ Chevrolet Impalas
and Chrysler LeBarons like the tails of big cats
flicking in the grass as they watch their prey—
while the girls they wanted pretended

not to see them. They swanned around
the neighborhood swinging their hips like church bells,
curls bouncing on shoulders soft as ripe peaches, lipstick red
as home-grown tomatoes on mouths that knew how to kiss
or so we believed—though they would never
tell us, even if we had the nerve

to ask. In those days, the tiny nubbins of our breasts
seemed like seeds that would never sprout,
and we couldn’t keep our hair combed
more than five minutes before the strands turned to strings.
But we ached for something when we saw those boys,
that neither of us could name. So we went walking, waved
at the old couple sitting on their front porch the way
they always did of a summer evening
when it was cooler outside, than inside the house.

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