Kissing Booth: 27 Years Later

When I reveal my weight to Kim Ebersbacher
(née Schlund), the nurse at Community Care
on Memorial Day, I wonder if she remembers.
Her pen dots a smile on her clipboard.
The light of a thousand ordinary afternoons
wets her eyes. The monitor she clips
on my fingertip draws from me the news
that my parents are fine in Prescott Valley.
I report no allergies, and she chronicles
the new stretch on the Bob Barton Highway
that her folks said shaved thousands off
their home value. What of Big Brett, her brother
who boxed the Gooding rowdies in
the Smoker Benefits? Old friends? Jocks?
Dweebs? Our conversation treats
returning home like a pox we've
sidestepped for decades. Nothing cures
the unspoken. History is its own medicine.
From the box theater of the otoscope
she slips in my ear, we peer into the past.
Ponytailed, she sits with Christy Davidson
in the high school cafeteria for the senior choir
fundraiser. My ninth grade friends wave
a dollar and prescribe a dare. Air hisses
into the cuff that squeezes my bicep.
Her hands guide my head to her face,
and she kisses me in front of the waiting world.
My blood rises to the level of love.
She steps back, examines me. The years
swing her body into a bag of unwashed scrubs.
Her face slackens a sack of mother's masks.
All this time, I have been immune to sorrow.

Matthew James Babcock teaches composition, creative writing, and literature at BYU-Idaho. He was a Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Poetry Award recipient in 2008, and in 2010 Press 53 chose his novella, "He Wanted to Be a Cartoonist for The New Yorker," as a first-prize winner in its annual Open Awards contest. His book, Private Fire: The Ecopoetry and Prose of Robert Francis, is available from The University of Delaware Press.

Boxcar Poetry Review - ISSN 1931-1761