Girls’ Locker Room
Ninth grade gym
second class of the morning
stories escape tiled shower room,
floating with echoes of hot water against the flesh of young girls.
Air fills with stories of fresh encounters.
A taste of cherry coke
on a boyfriend’s tongue, naïve mark on neophyte neck.
How luscious to have red apple memories.
A first kiss, warm palm
trembling across newly emerging breasts.
I listen with aching envy,
face pressed so closely to open locker,
the reek of dirty socks and
tennis shoes coat my hair.
I long to burst from the stink of cover,
balance upon the stage of narrow, grimy bench
to reveal with anguished howl
how grit from a freeway underpass
scored the skin of my back
as I strained beneath the weight
of a dark-haired boy
with a red car
murmuring in darkness
he loved me,
but never came back.
The True Cost of Things
When I walked out on my second husband
at the real end of it,
I was rash enough to stand and simply watch him
slide down the wall
coming to rest on the pale kitchen floor,
fingers trembling and splayed
as if he feared sinking
deep into the linoleum.
Heart hard and dark as our blacktop driveway,
I gazed as he went slightly mad.
And watching him. And watching him I think,
“Good china. Dinette set. Car.”
And consider meeting my new lover for lunch.
Frantically working to avoid the brush of middle age,
I am busy with endless, useless errands, until
my eldest son comes home to introduce a lovely young woman.
Hand softly cupping her slim brown neck,
his eyes fill with fresh promise.
And watching him, and watching him,
I am frantic to lunge back in time.
Beg unearned mercy. Plead a gentle word.
Search, try, claw at anything,
feathers, bones, my own blood,
anything at all to ward away
this young woman’s shining ability
to melt my son to nothing
while considering what else she might do.
My first meal without you
by two shrimp, a nestled sacrifice,
whole shells, countless insect legs.
I would drop them on your plate,
uncomfortable with grotesque little bodies,
browned in oil and seasonings.
I risk a glance as other diners
dig away, burrowing meat
from cleft, thin casing.
I poke one bug body
curled like a new moon,
hiding from my poised fork.
Unaccompanied, even dinner is awkward.
With resolve, I play the part of any
nonchalant seeker of shrimp,
lobster stalker, crab connoisseur.
Grab the hapless finger-sized nubbins,
all garlic and pepper.
Discover ridged flesh juicy.
Worth the tricky push and pull
to deliver a bit of pink essence to my tongue--
I turn to the side, ready
to tell you of my adventure,
receive my reward.
Waiter, dark haired, young,
waits to pour more wine,
smiles as if I please him.
My hand raises, covering glass,
shoulders tight beneath new blue dress.
I bring another bite to my mouth.
This is when you would lick the butter from
Main course untouched,
I scrape black wooden chair
hustle out the door, clutching purse,
expecting to be robbed.
(Sharon Thompson struggles with generational Bipolar Disorder and childhood abuse. She began writing seriously partially as therapy in an inpatient psychiatric hospital and continues to face mental health challenges through her writing. Thompson retired after twenty years of teaching High School English. She now lives with her terrier, Molly Blue, in Temecula, California, near San Diego near her two grown sons.)
The Beautiful Space-