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Your last name’s the one I remember. Director
of our all-American chorus, you led me alone
into the sandhills, told me how you were named
for the lindens that grow like smaller oaks
or elms in Europe’s parks, and which, translated
into English, are “lime trees” usually.
You were smaller too; your head and profile
should have crowned a height of six or seven feet.
Lindeman is spicy now I’ve smelled a linden blooming
and been reminded a time or two of you
kissing me, first of anyone. A lime has always been
a green lemon to my mind, but I thought you yellower then,
with age. Now so many have kissed me too.
Still, of them all, you were my good instructor,
the single high-placed person I hoped to hold
as you would open your arms in preparation for a note
to break from, as I would guess, two hundred girls.
I was your girl, that one day only, at the beach,
where you noticed me out of six or seven. We’d worked
to bury you, helpless to the neck. Dark glasses.
That left your voice and even teeth. Deep breath.
Sand broke off your chest. Alarming. Now I would rhyme
with my early thinking, call it charming.
Then we walked, not far, and sat without a towel.
No waves, no stars, no air to gasp to start with.
Your hand ran under my suit-strap and let it snap.
I thought probably I would hate you, but I have not.
Copyright 2022 Mary Jane White
Mary Jane White is an attorney and poet. Her new collection of poems Dragonfly. Toad. Moon. will be released in April 2022 from Press 53.
What a lovely moment — and such beautiful language, dancing syntax & cadences in that poem. Flirting with rhyme, never hammering it in. Ah.
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Yes, I’ve been admiring Mary Jane’s poems since we were in grad school. Always elegant. Always nuanced.