It’s difficult to be sweet 16 “never been kissed.”  The worn hallways of high school remember the middle school years of braces, thick glasses and bookworm behavior.  Short bouncy haircuts and contact lenses can’t erase history.  Perky cheerleaders pair with golden boys.  The long-haired kids ditch class, sit on the grassy hillside, and smoke.  Somewhere in the middle, you slide from class to class.  Invisible.

In autumn, roots grow
strong while foliage sleeps; fields
full of poppies glow.

Prompts: We Write Poems for a poem that sends wisdom to your 16 year old self.


Tomato Jam

tomato jam thick
with tangy lemon slices
brings back summer’s warmth
The air hung heavy and thick at my grandparents’ house.  The humid Illinois air held onto smells that never lingered in the arid air of my California home.  Their basement smelled musty, warm and damp from the wringer washing machine.  A basket under the laundry chute caught the toys and clothes we dropped down from the upstairs hallway; the basement aroma rising through the chute to greet us.  We tossed birdseed on the back lawn and caught fireflies in jars.  We baked sugar cookies, thin and crisp.  I have my grandma’s recipe for those cookies — and for the tomato jam we spread on toast for breakfast.


I was cantering in the arena — balanced, smooth and relaxed.  Three strides before the corner, Jackson bucked.  Caught unaware and unprepared, I was tossed to the side of the saddle.  As I scrambled back up, the next buck lifted me further off balance.  I let go, pushing myself away from his shoulder and dropping to the ground.  The sand was hard.  It hurt.  Jackson slid to a confused stop and stared at me with questioning dark eyes.


You chose the other;

The wife and children, the known.

I let you go.