My Summer of Seventeen
by Amy Stone

I spent hanging out at a Hill Country Dairy Queen,
wearing tight jeans, flirting up girls, night-cruising
with an old cowboy in a faded Stetson. He was taboo,
twenty years older than acceptable, a master Margarita
maker and an outlaw from Belize. I called him Lizard,
he called me Sidekick, and we had understandings—
he didn’t mess with jailbait and I didn’t drink tequila.

He drove a dilapidated pickup, green like a dragon.
Fierce black smoke shot out its tail when it belched
ignition. Late night on moon-lit weekends he'd cruise
country roads, me riding shotgun, some pretty girl
sitting between us, my hand on her knee. He rolled
stogie-size joints one-handed from a Bull Durham
tin he kept hidden under the seat.

We had outrageous adventures like picking
plump fruit from melon patches, eating slices,
juices dripping from our chins, then skinny dipping
in the creek. Later he’d chase waddling armadillos
in the buff while the girl and I laughed, lying on a blanket
in the back of the dragon, kissing, falling in love or lust.

Some nights Lizard cut the head lights while we cruised
beneath a luminous country moon watching fireflies
blink on and off between sleeping cattle and red oak trees.
Leon Russell sang Lost in the Woods before I switched
the Dragon’s radio to Pour Some Sugar on Me. Our disparity
in music bookmarked the summer months, taught us both
new lyrics to sing before I returned to school in the city.

Three years later, when I was twenty, I went back
to the Hill Country in search of him, wanted to offer Lizard
a little nip of me. But the girls at the Dairy Queen sighed,
said he’d gone to Belize where he was smoking stogies
and making killer margaritas on some Caribbean beach.

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