"I thought girls can’t whistle. Something to do / with their teeth perhaps, with the shape of soft mouths."
I thought girls can’t whistle. Something to do
with their teeth perhaps, with the shape of soft mouths.
Girls couldn’t build kites either, I thought, or fly them
with the skill required to keep them up there
until everyone else had given up. Girls couldn’t wear
trousers. I too wanted to stick my hands deep inside
pockets and find pebbles and elastic rings
from mother’s fruit conserve jars.
My trousers now have deep pockets, but the flying
is done in machines with metal wings and big jet engines.
You used to stand there, faithfully, outside
the customs gates, one hand buried in your coat pocket
as though digging for that last frog, one hand waving
at your little sister who was wheeling her
Samsonite. It was always only for a short visit.
Yesterday your son picked me up and tried
to tell me that my six-foot-four brother weighed
160 pounds. You smiled, pulling back skin over
predator’s teeth, and I tried not to think
of how you used to span sandwich paper
over balsa wood wings of model planes
which will never fly again.
A German-born UK national, Rose Mary Boehm lives in Lima, Peru. She is the author of three collections of poetry, the most recent of which will be published later this year by Blue Nib.