Going Through Imprints From Summer

My driver’s license turned over
a new way out and away 
for me
to see who I be
somewhere I never been.
Before my license
I had my bike,
and I ran as far as I could on it.
I had my usual routes around my neighborhood to get
to other parts of town
and shopping plazas. I ran 
everywhere I could on my bike and ran just to explore—
to get out
and away and be
the way I be. I biked 
through Eisenhower Park often
and stopped there weekdays in summer
when the town rec. dept. funded
college kids to run arts & crafts programs
on the picnic benches. 
Thousands of yards of gimp
woven into lanyards and bracelets and key chains,
thousands more lace together 
faux suede coin pouches with snap shuts,
and glue and paint flow over bead beds on crayoned paper
in the hot summer hours
in cool shade 
in the hands of kids
loitering in the park, playground, and ballfield
in a shared summertime existence.
I biked to the park to do arts & crafts and talk to college girls.
A good summer routine for a guy going into middle school.
A town pool is in the park, too. I rode my bike to the pool
to swim whenever I wanted with my ID card.
The pool had a diving board,
night swim, 
and lifeguards.
To me, lifeguards seemed to share an understanding,
walk like they owned it, ultra-cool and in charge,
talk like they stole it
the way they sat in bronzed silence
chiseled lips don’t twitch under mirrored sunglasses
for hours and only nodding a knowing head 
or gesturing in a wave or finger lift, 
as if they've been chatting with their mate in the other chair 
about bullshit through telepathy they get 
from the whistle and black lanyard.
An old pool rat like me always knew the lifeguards by name,
like all the pool-rat kids who came to the park
with pool IDs their parents bought. 
                                                                            There were a lot.
Families, too—moms and dads, bubbes and nanas,
grandpas and zaydes—and high school science teachers,
third-grade teachers, and kids from other elementary schools in town.
The lifeguards stayed friendly regulating the pool area,
and ran it by clock-precision whistle blowing
clear-the-pool breaks
for shift changes and different swims—
clear out, let the lap swimmers in
for twenty minutes,
and the lifeguards climb down to switch chairs,
take a break,
go home.
The lifeguards worked on a schedule
at the same pool and got paid by the town.
A good summer job for a kid in college.
The lifeguards ran swim lessons early in the morning,
but after that, 
there wasn't much else to do but
tell kids to stop running, blow a whistle at horseplay
and other unsafe behavior,
switch chairs,
wear a bathing suit in the sun, 
                                               and tan up to super-hot.
All the pool-rat boys spoke about the pool
in their own terms,
and when one of them said, "the hot lifeguard," 
everyone knew who he meant.
She usually had long blond hair, 
but there's been fine brunettes,
fit body, big tits get noticed,
and copper-toned skin.
She’s so untouchable—
mirrored aviators won’t let anyone in.
What would you say to her?
			                    Wanna ride bikes?

The day I took my driving test
                                             I scheduled a dream come true. 
In the morning,
an appointment to take my driving test,
and in the afternoon,
a date to the beach
someplace on the Connecticut shore
with a 24-year-old lifeguard girl who wanted to hang with me.
She’d been my obsession for weeks, and I never imagined
her curly hair in a cute bob
feeling so good in my hand,
freckles made my stomach drop
so cute on her high-boned cheeks, when she smiled
she showed her teeth, her brown eyes sparkled,
a dimple-cheeked doll in a honey-brown fit body,
so close to all bare,
legs crossed dangling her honey-brown foot,
with rising arch falling
to five uniform toes all frosty blue nails
diminishing by degrees from big to pinky,
with a silver ring on her second toe,
up in her chair.
By lifting her toes
she dangled her foot at the ankle.

Two-toned blue Chevy Citation, I’m behind the wheel,
she says more than once, I'm really glad you can drive today, 
over the roar of the highway wind coming in
through the open windows.
A Van Halen cassette spins in the tape deck,
And I say rock on, ooh,
rock on,
wheels rolling over Route 9, bumping through potholes,
holding on uneven asphalt, hands tight on the wheel, 
with beautiful lifeguard girl 
in my shotgun seat
her bare feet on my dashboard
reflecting in my windshield.
What did a girl like that want with
The question crossed my mind, 
I answered, Who cares?
Last week, she smiled when she
caught me staring.
Took it as a yes—
stopped to chat.
She giggled when she spoke
in a jingly way and when
she did it with her dimple-cheeked smile
I wanted to taste her face.
She couldn't talk that long, but
I could,
but she was working, so 
I didn't stay too long.
I don't remember the game I played.
I know I told her I was a wrestler, 
and lifted weights, and ran.
That was me back then.
Not all of me—it was the me I wanted her see,
the other me was secret, but had friends;
got tired being around people, but felt lonely
for a familiar person;
hated myself often for falling short,
and carried heavy confusion without
satisfying answers to rest it on,
but out goes my chest, flexed without looking like
I’m flexing,
and acted like that guy, with his Wayfarers on by the pool
chatting up the lifeguard girl.
Her smile and those mirrored aviators,
and the sweet way she talked,
and we always saw each other in our bathing suits.
That’s how my dream starts off. . . .
Why couldn't a 24-year-old girl want to hang with me?
Look at the shoulders and chest on me.
So she said yes.
Oh shit—it’s on!
I made a date
with this older lifeguard girl
to the beach
someplace she knew on the Connecticut shore,
promised to drive cause I’d have my driver’s license
that morning.
We hit it off.
She laughed at jokes I made.
She held my hand and
gently stroked it with her fingers.
I'm going 60 in a 55,
the lamination on my license is still warm,
and it’s getting hard to drive so fast
when I want to watch her mouth speak,
her hand caress mine,
where her legs bend,
her toes wiggle, and
I can’t adjust my shorts and still steer
while holding her hand.
My Chevy Citation became our ride, our hang out,
our place to make out and be together.
I’d park it 
on deserted side streets around town
where I didn’t think we’d be noticed
and fold down the back seat to open up the trunk.
Laid a large quilted blanket down
to make it cozy.
The battery stayed on to play music
on the tape deck.
Our noses gently met to touch lips—
rub hands all over each other,
take our clothes off to our almost bare,
twist our legs together like gripping vines,
press our hips together,
she’d guide my hand,
and we’d start to sweat
and thrill in everything we were getting away with
in plain sight
if anyone happened by to look.
I assumed a girl her age would move fast,
but she didn’t.
She didn’t like the boys who wanted fast,
and for a guy like me,
I was fine taking slow practice with a 24-year-old lifeguard,
who looked achingly cute in her white VW Rabbit and bathing suit,
who liked me to pick her up and go for rides
to hide and make out, and
all we were was what we were
to each other
in the limbo of summer break
when it’s possible to go somewhere and be
someone else without the stigma of
classmates’ opinions,
and every kid acts older,
everyone older acts like kids,
hooking up is easy cause no one has to know,
and it won’t last
past Labor Day,
but bringing up Labor Day makes sad faces
because it’s back to who we be at school
the old routines, habits, and reputations—
the same old girls who never said yes before 
just laugh instead of saying no, again.
Fuck those girls. It’s July, and I’m with you, girl,
and you’re with me,
and we got this moment, right now,
and 30 years from now,
I wonder who’ll remember?
I gave thanks to the summer gods,
who put us together, and didn’t question the cause,
and processed my flummoxed adolescent emotions
in Meat Loaf songs.

On our first date,
in my Chevy Citation,
she held my hand and
gently stroked it with her fingers.
I’m going 60 in a 55
and it’s getting hard to drive so fast
when I want to watch her mouth 
caress mine
and her toes 
scrunch. . . .
Where'd that car come from?!
I got the right of way!
Better act cool.
Fuck that guy,
I probably said.
She giggled and brushed wind-flapping strands
of chin-length hair 
out of her eyes, 
while holding my hand.
I opened my fingers to touch her bare leg.
My palms and fingers categorized her body by touch
into places she liked and places she
brushed me away from
and guided me to,
and the genuinely human part of me
stayed eager and interested in
nuzzling past each layer of who she’d become
and from where and how
and where she was going,
but not too much about that
beginning after our end.
Summer would end, school would start,
and there wasn’t time
for many more choruses 
in our rock-opera finale.
She wanted to, she said,
and I wanted to, I knew,
but she didn’t feel right going ahead
when her parents didn’t want us together.
I didn’t understand why she cared.
I didn’t understand why her parents hated me?
She probably pointed out the age difference,
but I swear to my god, and on my mother’s grave,
I’m into it.
I just wanted to make it with a lifeguard girl
on a hot summer night.
I never stopped to think
why she didn’t like guys her age,
why she didn’t hang with girls her age,
why she was so sweet and innocent,
why she liked me,
why I liked her,
why we were so much alike
in ways I didn’t know
then and for years,
until recent years when
I understood myself better
and the way I be,
and I can re-see my life
in memories to see
the real lessons that escaped me
because I couldn’t see
without the words to categorize
all the things about me
that made up
from all the things about me
I tried to be
to be liked,
to be the things I thought
I should be
to be less lonely,
like the antihero in a Meat Loaf song.
Since her parents didn’t approve,
it kind of made us so much more.
All revved up with no place to go, I said,
taking a big lead off second base,
and she showed her teeth, 
her brown eyes sparkled, 
she kissed me, pulled me closer,
and agreed being bad was so much hotter.

Can’t print that picture 
from my head onto picture paper
like a summer photograph in a Fotomat hut.
Those moments all together with that time
vanish with me,
except this piece I’m writing,
like that piece of her history
imaged on my digital screen—
1984 high school yearbook,
her picture
just as it looked in real life
in her parents’ house
when they were out
so we had a comfortable place to be for our
almost bare, leg-entangled kiss adventure.
She showed me her yearbook,
old pictures of my teachers
from six years earlier—
they looked so much younger,
as did I when I was 10.
Now, the me I be can see
picking up the conversation,
must be 30 years gone by. . . .
What would I say?
Remember when
you were 24 years old,
high school didn’t feel too long ago
to step back to who you were when
a pumped-up kid in an old car
crushing hard on your super-cute smile and fit life-guard body
could give you all his attention
in the limbo of summer break,
when it’s possible to go somewhere and be
someone else without the stigma of
classmates’ opinions,
every kid acts older,
everyone older acts like kids,
hooking up is easy cause no one has to know,
and it won’t last
past Labor Day?
We never went all the way.
Didn’t make it close to Labor Day.
She broke it off because
her parents pressured her to,
or so she said.
Not wanting their daughter
to overstep a social boundary or
parental boundary
or worse,
innocently, as we both were,
in similar ways
that couldn’t be named,
except maybe we saw in each other
similar divergent neurology,
she the same as me?
Less lonely squeezed tight
in secret with a familiar face?
Maybe we did know
without words for it.
No way to figure it out in a world with no words for it—
Is something real when you can't call it?
Does a name cut short what’s all of it?

On our first date, I lifted my foot off the gas—
just chilled in the right lane of the highway
hoping no one would merge on.
With an unbelievable
lifeguard girl curled up in my passenger’s seat,
my wandering eyes and distracted hands
kept my old Chevy Citation on the road
all the way to the beach, where racing hearts
picnicked on blankets in the sand,
and hidden under tender waves,
hands rubbed all over each other,
legs twisted together like gripping vines,
and we thrilled in everything 
                                               we were getting away with
in plain sight
                                               if anyone happened to look.