Tricia Gates Brown

Summer at Twelve

The shopkeeper kept silent each time
my friend and I snuck behind the far row
of books, eyes wide at The Joy of Sex.

Perhaps it was time we knew. At
twelve, we bled, could reproduce.
And we were children of the seventies;

innocence so passé. Oh, the wonders in pen
and ink! The endless bodily arrangements!
It was enough to turn adults red as poppies,

to transfix the steadiest mind. But after
the bookstore, we would eat ice cream—
bubblegum flavor, confettied with gumballs,

each fished from our mouths and saved
for later. Tiny, colorful pools of drool
collected like polka-dots on paper napkins where

each gumball sat, counted, to see
who’d scored the most that day. Then we raced
home on bikes, the road frying-pan hot.

Our Coppertone legs glistened like mirages,
flashed the unwitting invitations of angels,

Tricia Gates Brown’s poems and essays have appeared in various publications including: Geez Magazine, Oregon Humanities, and Rathalla Review. Living on a farm in Yamhill, Oregon, she writes and edits, and dotes on a four-legged menagerie. She is author of the debut novel Wren.

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