Oh, we were such good girls, the four of us, caught
in Polaroid amber in our cut-off jeans.
Deep Iowa summer—thrumming, humid, hot—
and we posed for somebody’s dad in the yellow-green
light of late afternoon, in a rough-cleared spot
surrounding a derelict hut. We were fourteen,
the hut was hidden on somebody’s uncle’s farm,
and we had two whole days to flirt with harm.
We were all cherished, and our world was small—
books, good grades, residual make-believe—
and this was our grand adventure, before fall
flung us at high school, where we would achieve
less than we planned. We needed a close call,
a way for that tight-wound goodness to unweave
itself. Not really living was our fear.
The dads left, and we leapt for the bootleg beer
(six cans of Hamm’s) and six loose cigarettes,
all stolen from the parents one by one.
Freedom within our grasp, we could forget
what good, good girls we were and come undone:
mocking our mothers, belching sans regret,
bellowing camp songs, overdoing sun,
s’mores, hot dogs, a cooler full of Cokes—
drunk on six shared beers and as many smokes.
Meanwhile, in other news: a solar flare;
a Six-Day War; Charlie Manson out of jail;
a Long Hot Summer of riots everywhere;
a Summer of Love hurtling off the rails;
Chicago tornadoes; in China, a bomb scare:
chaos and mayhem off the Richter scale,
the world sick with a cataclysmic syndrome.
On Sunday, our parents came to take us home.