Summer-strolling in the park,
my pal Keith and I;
he, outwardly confident, brash;
I, awkward and shy.
Two fifteen-year olds,
our adolescent hormones
fueling us with teenage fantasies
and indiscriminate lust.
we ambled in hot sunlight
along pathways, over grass;
among trees and shrubbery,
past the frantic play of shouting children
and the docile dreaming of old men
on narrow wooden benches.
And then-nearing the tennis courts-
a shout of warning, as a small boy
careered toward us, head down,
chasing an errant ball across the grass.
Too late! A flurry of limbs
as he crashed into Keith
and sprawled upon the ground
in childish woe.
The boy was fine, no bruise or graze:
but who had shouted? I turned
and my heart slipped its moorings,
adrift in a love-warm sea.
The boy’s sister stood before me:
a vision in tennis whites; her brown legs
and perfect smile shouting at me
in the age-old language of desire.
In a hot daze, I watched her
holding her brother’s hand:
we talked and the universe stood still.
She was Valerie, Jewish and beautiful;
a goddess from an ancient land
of cedars, olives, sandalwood and myrrh.
I was Liam, Irish and innocent,
a willing conscript in the cause of love.
Ah, but love’s a terrible thing,
my love had no love for me.
Her heart inclined toward Keith,
and in the days and months
that followed, I drank deeply
from the well of love’s despair;
and Time has not dulled the agony
or memory of Valerie, my sweet Valerie.