First Love


Photo by cottonbro studio on


My face in the mirror looked different—

softer, rosier. 

My skin sang a humming song. 

“I’m in love,” I told my reflection.

The object of my affection,

a senior, was not an academic.

He came close to not graduating at all.

His name, Inigo de Martino,

like the Mexican film director,

but my Inigo claimed Spanish nobility.

Inigo was an artist. 

He designed and painted sets

for high school productions.


We worked on the high school

literary magazine together.

That’s where it started.

Inigo would give me a ride

to our teacher-sponsor’s house.

The collaboration blossomed.


Inigo rode a motorcycle.

He wore a leather jacket.

He smoked—but never around me.

He had a shock of shiny, straight dark hair.

He was slim and wiry, with big smile.

He wore round, dark-rimmed glasses.

I thought he was exotic and fascinating.

My father hated him.


My father said,

“He always shakes my hand

to show me he isn’t holding a knife.”


Inigo took me to the prom.

I wore a long dress of dotted Swiss,

very demure.

My hair styled short like a woman of forty.

We had our picture taken.

Inigo in suit and tie,

me with my corsage, smiling shyly.


Inigo graduated and joined the Navy.

I never saw him again.

Years later,

I found that prom photo

in my father’s wallet.

My father had neatly cut out

Inigo’s head.

Cross Off Yesterday


Photo by Hilary Halliwell on


When she peed on the rug

though you walked her so many times

in 26-degree air


When you were impatient

used mean words

When you felt so sorry

for yourself

When all the asking

for help for food for attention

sucked out all you knew of God


Don’t erase

the holy darkness before dawn

under waning starlight

the promise of the day

resting in warm flannels

the hawk’s grace and cry

geese invisible overhead

inked permanently

on the heart

The Crush


Photo by Pixabay on


He was the only boy in high school that I wanted.  He was the star of the class of ’69.  He played tennis in his white shorts.  He played varsity football.  He was in all the Advanced Placement classes. (So was I.)  But he thought fast and critically and spoke up a lot.  I rarely said anything. It was still the days when boys ruled classroom discussions.

I wanted his attention from ninth grade through twelfth. I wanted this rising star to want me by his side.  He was broad-shouldered, dark of skin with dark brown hair.  He was hairy.  He was student body president. Of course.

Whenever he was near, I talked louder and laughed more.  He appeared not to notice, but, knowing the way high school society works, I bet people told him I “liked” him.  He liked the slim girl with the thick, long blonde hair.  She was also in the A.P. classes.  She had a wide smile, a sprinkling of freckles and was quiet but smart.  She became a flag girl.  I was friendly to her because it brought me closer to him.

And then in my senior year, my mother’s cancer and the treatments forced her to stay home.  The high school grapevine probably passed that news around as well.  My seventh-period teacher often let me go home early.  On the way home, I’d sometimes walk by his house.  I don’t think I was much help at home that year.  I did do the grocery shopping.  I did cook–sometimes.  Mostly I nursed my crush, played the guitar, and listened to Donovan records in my room.

But sometime before graduation, he called and asked me out.  After accepting quietly with great self-control, I hung up the phone and shrieked, “Daddy! He asked me out!”

The date was for a show at the L.A. Music Center.  I can’t remember what performance it was, a play or a concert.  I fussed about what to wear, but I don’t remember what I wore either.  I know that my father waited up for me, and when The Crush walked me to my door and we paused at the top of the stairs, my father turned on the porch light and opened the door.  So much for my longed-for good night kiss.

When I look back on that evening, I believe it was a pity date.  I imagine his mother saying, “Your father is too busy, and we have these tickets.  Why don’t you take Kim? She’s having a hard time right now. I’m sure she’d like to get out of the house for a while.”  It speaks to his kindness that he asked.

The summer before college, I went to summer school at U.C. Santa Cruz.  I took to wearing Mexican blouses with no bra, and ragged bell-bottom jeans.  Let my hair go curly-frizzy.  When I came home in August, he called me.  Or maybe I called him?  I went to his house, and we made out on the basement sofa.  He was a lousy kisser (by now I had some basis for comparison).  All spit and sloppy lips.  And when I wouldn’t go further, he complained about blue balls and how uncomfortable he was. 

In the fall, I went to U.C. Irvine.  My mother died in November.

He went to Harvard.  Got a law degree like his dad.  I knew he stayed on the East Coast, but just last week, I googled him.

He never practiced law.  He wrote a book or more, and he writes a blog of political commentary.  He went bald.  And he voted for Trump in 2016.  I’m still affronted.  How could I have had a crush on someone who would vote for Trump?