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ISSUE:  Spring 1995
It’s 1958, and I know nothing that I really
want to know,it’s four o’clock, our TV screen, smaller
than a dinner plate, leaps with pageboys, crewcuts, and
  white shirts.
My baby sister, in a clean white cast from her tiny
nipples to her toes, she’ll be just fine my parent say,
when her hip has grown a proper socket around the bone,
she’ll jitterbug and ride a bike, you’ll see! I kiss
her damp neck and cheeks, testing her against the smiling
children just diagnosed with cancer that the Cleveland
paper shows us every week or so.She tries to wiggle,
laughing at the music, lying on her stomach
like a stiff white frog, while kids in Philadelphia
teach the Midwest how to dance away from awkwardness.
I asked my father why there were no boys dancing with
each other. “They just don’t.” I didn’t know about first love
though I watched it every day before the Mousketeers.
I’d learned from Nancy Drew that people stole and lied,
but a girl just old enough for Bandstand, who had a car,
could catch them.All I didn’t know flickered on that
Dick Clark, who could not grow old, the city’s windows
silvered by the western sun, tight jeans and blouses, love
and dancing—those mortal messages washed over me
like rain on asphalt. While some boy sang about his baby
I’d bounce my sister in her plaster jacket, loving her
as I loved nothing else. “She’s my baby all the time”,
I sang to the tune of Jesus Loves Me, and all
the clean pale skins agreed, dancing through the afternoon
as endless and as warm as love.


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