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When your ring became too large for your finger

"I thought girls can’t whistle. Something to do / with their teeth perhaps, with the shape of soft mouths."

Published onSep 09, 2020
When your ring became too large for your finger

Photo by Oxana V on Unsplash


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.

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