Skidding out across Lake Huron
in Jimmy Chrysler’s ’69 Dodge
I learned the easy way
how to say no to boys,
and, so I imagined,
to men twice my age,
and how the word, maybe,
could be worthy enough of itself.

On dark January afternoons
we fishtailed around bell buoys
and channel markers,
Jimmy slipping his cool, white hands
up under my shirt
while the snow,
arcing up from behind the wheels
circled that car
like a Can-Can dancer’s skirt!

In February, Jimmy suggested
it was my turn to take the wheel
and so I attempted triple salchows
and sidewheel figure eights
and when the needle quivered
up around eighty
I began to think seriously
about saying yes.

But then Jimmy confessed
that he was already married
and before I knew
what was happening
his wife told me
all of this had been my fault
but she intended
to have him back.

And then it was March,
the month of rudeness
when the wind wants
only to hear itself talk;
and the ice
breaking up on the river
brought everything
to a halt.

-From Passages North
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