At McDuffie Junior High, everyone knew
an invitation to Caleb Parker’s basement
was a ticket to Seven Minutes in Heaven.
Even the church girls wanted in.

Beneath a solemn disco ball, the girls nibbled
at the altar of Cheetos and Sprite,
the boys huddled around Caleb’s drum set.
Finally, Caleb held up an empty Coke bottle

and said, Circle up.  The rules were simple:
every third spin, a couple was shepherded
to the closet, where anything goes.
The closet was quiet as a confessional,

and darker.  I backed up to the cool wall.
My partner was a year older, a veteran
of these parties.  Hey, he whispered, groping
through the darkness. Where are you?

The boy wasted no time sliding his hands
inside the waistband of my jeans.  His mouth
went everywhere—my neck, my earlobes.
I memorized his moves like scripture

then, like a disciple, repeated them.
We ignored the polite knocks, then the banging.
We kissed like we’d never get another chance.
At last, Caleb flung open the door.

We staggered out, the fresh air washed over us,
and the way that older boy nodded at me
was close to a miracle. I grinned back like a fool,
my chin chafed pink as a birthmark.


Photo By: Lynn Friedman