June Poem of the Month: The Summer I Was Sixteen

JV Icon Poem of the Month

 The Summer I Was Sixteen

The turquoise pool rose up to meet us,
its slide a silver afterthought down which
we plunged, screaming, into a mirage of bubbles.
We did not exist beyond the gaze of a boy.

Shaking water off our limbs, we lifted
up from ladder rungs across the fern-cool
lip of rim. Afternoon. Oiled and sated,
we sunbathed, rose and paraded the concrete,

danced to the low beat of “Duke of Earl.”
Past cherry colas, hot-dogs, Dreamsicles,
we came to the counter where bees staggered
into root beer cups and drowned. We gobbled

cotton candy torches, sweet as furtive kisses,
shared on bencehes beneath summer shadows.
Cherry. Elm. Sycamore. We spread our chenille
blankets across grass, pressed radios to our ears,

mouthing the old words, then loosened
thin bikini straps and rubbed baby oil with iodine
across sunburned shoulders, tossing a glance
through the chain link at an improbable world.

–Geraldine Connolly¬†(c)

(c) material in the name of the author/assigns; used for educational purposes


Journal Prompts

  • Write about the summer you were sixteen.
  • This poem describes the summers of a particular era, perhaps the ’60s. If you were sixteen during a different decade, follow the poem’s format but change the details to fit your year’s culture.
  • This poem is written from a 16-year-old girl’s point of view. Try writing the same poem from a 16-year-old boy’s perspective–then or now.
  • What emotional landscape emerges for you from this poem?
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