Christina A. Sharik

THE YOUNG MEN OF MY LIFE

I used to cry over a boyfriend’s
perceived slight,
and the fact that Clearasil
didn’t always work overnight ~
(I was relieved when
I realized he didn’t mean it,
and as for the blemish, he said
he hadn’t seen it.)
I remember them all:
The one who said he could look
at the back of my knees forever
‘cause there was a dimple there ~
one in the front seat of the car
who brought wedding
vows from somewhere
and said if we repeated
them, we were as good as married;
He said: “you know what happens then ~ right”?
I wouldn’t ~ I couldn’t ~
so he left and I cried all night…

the one named David, the first boy
I knew who went to Vietnam
(I asked: where is that, Dad?)
David went away, leaving a letter
for Sandra, and she cried
because she was sad…
he was the first to go away
but not the last
of the boys who sent airmail
letters in my past ~
I remember the
black soldier on the bus in
Philadelphia
headed back to Vietnam ~
he winked at me
when I wished him well ~
I often wonder if he came
back from hell…

and Danny, who called me
“Sugar Babe”
and came home from Vietnam
with a plate in his head ~
and moved in with his mom ~

The ones who told me I had
beautiful eyes ~
the recipients of letters
spritzed with cologne and
sealed with sighs;

the shy Marine whose buddies
said he called my name one night ~
My brothers:

Dane, who once told me
I would be all right ~
and Paul, who went with me
to a protest “rally” to meet
Jane and Don;
and, Bob, who went dancing with
me when I didn’t want to go alone ~

~

the boy who gave me an album
because of a Janice Ian tune ~
He wanted me to come back soon ~
one who gave me a set
of Chanel No. 5 ~
The times were so “intense” then
and I felt so alive;
and last, but never least,
my 3 year old son,
dear young one
who said
“I still love you, mommy”,
after his father was gone.

~

I miss the boys who are
now grown men,
the ones who meant so
much way back then ~
In my mind’s eye we’re all still young …
I cherish their words, their reassurances,
their compliments still
I loved them then
and I always will.
Not many look at me now as they did, then ~
Ah, I sometimes miss
those younger men.