I adore Anna Claire.
She has soft brown hair, deeply violet eyes.
I ask Jesus to make mine just like hers.
We seal a pact in blood--
best friends forever--
prick our index fingers,
press them so tight
the tips turn white.
September we bury photos
taken in a booth where we played hooky.
We grin, hug, kiss, and wave.
We share Saturday night basement parties.
Mostly girls dance with girls
but some boys, like Billy Frank, break in.
Anna Claire calls him a clod with two left feet.
When he walks away to put on Johnny Mathis,
she grabs my hand, drags me to the side.
'Chances Are' is our song.
He calls Anna Claire a downright bitch,
sometimes to her face, more often to mine.
He usually sounds full of himself
like the time he asks me to the drive-in,
says I better go or he’ll nab a real girl.
Anna Claire laughs,
He’s okay, not a dreamy Troy Donahue
but other girls want him.
I don’t turn him down.
Anna Claire flies into me,
says not to do anything I don’t want to.
You’re just a yellow-bellied sapsucker.
I want to dance, sing, talk away the days with her.
At fourteen I desert Anna Claire,
move to another world
where real girls do exactly as they want.
“Anna Claire” was first published in the anthology _Regrets_. Ed. Martha Manno. Seekonk, MA: Little Pear Press, 2006.
The poem was written in August 2003, the summer I returned to writing poetry after more than a 20-year lapse.