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Consequences

Gary Hyland
From:   White Crane Spreads Wings. Coteau Books, 1996


It is a summer after supper,
the stars just starting to form,
and Sharon Armour is the judge.
She has grade seven lore and we
are mere grade four or fives.

I wear the striped green t-shirt
that helps me pretend I am
a sailor on the river. Though Mrs.
Merrit's housecoat sways on
wire like a phantom chaperone,
we play Truth or Consequences.

When it's your turn you choose
to answer a question or suffer
a fate of short and long kisses
with a partner of the judge's whim,
a brief Morse Code liaison
in the garden behind Merrit's garage.
I usually prefer Truth because
we river sailors have better
wishes than rubbing lips with
Sherry Merrit or Betty Ogden.

But this one's too risky, nothing
I dare answer. I try to disguise
my pleasure when the judgement,
five short and five long, is with
the judge herself, forerunner
of the older women of my desire,
tall, brown-eyed, dark-haired
in jeans and shiny penny loafers,
new breasts like strawberries
beneath her white sweater.

We huddle in the drooping grass
on the garden's edge, kiss in slow
tremors, and talk a bit between.
The stars surge with liquid light.
After eight she asks how many
and, as coolly as I can through
the spin and daze, I answer six.
During number twelve, moister,
more sustained, I hear a voice.
Not my mother, nor my brother
sent to spy and drag me home.

It is so familiar to me now.
This night it seems more urgent
with each shout, as if the caller
wants me home because he knows
all garden myths must fall to grief.



Gary Hyland's works copyright © to the author.


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