FLORENCE SAGE

He lived two doors away and he loved me.
I was maybe eight so he’d have been nine.
After a cowboy double-feature matinee,
Hop-along, Roy and Dale, Tom Mix,
15 cents for kids, he paid, a date,
we went to his room to play with his trains.

Mechanical clacking on the tracks
and the wheezing whistle of the engine
approaching the curves erased
our giggles and whispers
and assured his mother downstairs,
who had a direct line to mine.

He was faster than the trains.
He discovered my lips were soft.
He discovered my flat little chest.

It wasn’t the only time at all
but that’s as far as we went.
We were children then.
We walked holding hands.

When our teacher made him stand
in the waste basket by her desk one afternoon
for some minor grade-four infraction
I suffered with him across the room
and he sought some comfort from my face,
that’s how it was.

Suddenly the family moved away,
took my boyfriend from my class and street,
took him from my side
with a bewildering goodbye.

Forty years later we met by chance
and remembered the cowboys and trains,
and just as fast, just the once,
picked up where we’d left off at the chest.
Don’t ever tell our Moms.

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