The Kiss

I was ten years old that summer
when the boy next door kissed me –

on that log in the back yard
eyes buried in the pages of a Nancy Drew
Delford crept up behind me
kissed me on the cheek and whispered,
“You a di prettiest girl in a di worl’, Anne Riley.”
And he ran…

Unaware of his flip-flops lagging behind
He bolted – hands and knees
through that gap in the shrub
that separated our yards.

Delford Williams, thirteen years old
Voice husky and hoarse,
face layered with scores of unhealing pimples
Stubby legs waddling
under ankle length trousers,
draped to his robust waist
by a patent leather belt
laddered with holes,
signifying stages of his growth.

Purple rubber flip-flops
protect his bark-like extremities
always too caked with dirt
to be recognized as feet
Safety pins clasped the toe piece in place
to the bottom of his flip-flops –

He’s unable to make more than three steps
before he realizes the pins have come loose and
one or sometimes both flip-flops
are left behind or trapped
in that gap in the shrub
that separated our yards.

Delford Willams!…You!… I chased after him,
scrubbing that kiss off with the palm of my hand
“You do it again! and in the garbage these go!”
I picked up his flip-flops, held one by the toe hold
between my thumb and index finger,
threw the other at him as he scurried
through that gap in the shrub
that separated our yards.

Delford picked himself up from the ground,
his trousers possessing a new rip
before he’s completely standing.

He picked up his flip-flop
grinned the whitest smile,
giggling, pointing at me, jeering,
“I love you! Anne Riley.”

“Ugh!”
To erase forever what I had just heard
and to rid my hands of Delford’s existence
I threw the other flip-flop
with all the strength I had.

It didn’t hit Delford nor land in his yard –
It dangled side to side on a stem
from that gap in the shrub
that separated our yards –

The years went by and that gap in the shrub
has turned into a forest of overgrown
weeds and dandelions
A sea of yellow-green
shielding a path
riddled with childhood memories.

Delford too has faded with the years,
gone too soon with a soul so fragile.

Haunted by illusions –
I still see Delford’s flip-flops lagging behind
His stubby legs waddling under
ripped ankle length trousers.

His dazzling white smile glaring between that
dark chocolate hue complexion,
mocking me, “I love you Annee Rilee.”
Him scurrying through that gap in the shrub
that separated our yards –
fleeing with childlike glee after planting that
awkward first kiss.