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The older daughter of a family friend
taught me how to do the Twist
the summer I was on the cusp
of Candyland and Kotex pads.

Cross-legged on her double bed
I listened as she talked to boys,
mischief simmered in her throat,
laughter in her sly jade eyes.

I studied as she changed her clothes
from baby dolls to madras shorts,
exhaling ghostly O’s of smoke
from skinny menthol cigarettes.

We harmonized to Bobby Vee
transistor radio cranked up high,
ignoring mother’s strict taboos
she shaved my furry coltish legs.

One full-mooned balmy August night
in headlight glare of her MG,
I slipped on sea-slick jetty rocks
as we watched the mating hermit crabs.

We raced for stitches in the dark,
top-down screaming, wind-whipped hair.
She teased I’d always have a scar
to remind me sex can be a bitch.

I winced a laugh from shotgun seat,
wise to score before the game:
induction into womanhood
comes chaperoned by blood.


Paula Rudnick is a former TV producer whose credits range from late night rock and roll to Emmy-nominated movies for television. Since retiring from the entertainment industry, she dabbled in memoir/short fiction, with the requisite unfinished novel in the drawer (do people still use drawers?).  She began writing poetry in 2015, a form that nicely marries her OCD tendencies with short attention span and busy schedule… much of it recently devoted to grassroots political work.

© 2018, Paula Rudnick

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