Deep end

Summer, 1960, me 13 at the time,
    high school girls budding out,
lolling poolside, diving in.
            I cannot touch bikinis, skin–

only watch them chat with boyfriends
    on lunch breaks, fingers chain-linked,
but their guys fenced outside.
            They lie in lawnchairs, squirm,

lick dilly bars, gossip,
    splash on sunscreen,
slather thighs and backs,
            sometimes nap.

The blonde I want, tanned by noon,                                                        
    lets one strap fall loose,
shows off a milky stripe
            running its path down,

gives her steady a glimpse of cleavage,
    fair trade for snowcone dipped in red,
handed slowly over the mesh.
            They all frost white in freckle cream,

bake in afternoon sun,
    and I try to make out
what they laugh about,
            catch brief snatches as they murmur,

heads bent together, orchids drooped in prayer.
    They shower, shampoo,
perch on Elvis Presley towels,
            twirl plastic curlers tight,

section off each other's hair,
    rat-tail combs busy
scurrying on their heads,
            promise of Jackie Kennedy look to come.

They writhe on tummies, butts swooping,
    legs toasting brown as curlers dry.
I suspect they go all the way,
            daydream of it as they play Crazy Eights,

keeping score on Black Jack gum wrappers.
    In the heat, I swim endless laps,
do underwater somersaults.
            I spin furiously in the deep end.