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Number One in 1963

I was twelve.

The only child of a bitter widow.

My father – my beautiful stranger –

dead ten months.

A surprise to all of us.


Through the craziness that was my home and my body

– both turning against me without warning,

came four voices singing I want to hold your hand,

over and over from my transistor radio.


Yes! You can hold my hand!

Please hold my hand, I sing back,

ignorant of the hunger that follows

a first touch.


My mother sounds her warning: with boys

one thing leads to another

and another

… and another.


And when I touch you I feel happy -- inside. I swoon!

Tucked in my bed, cocooned under a white canopy, I puzzle,

how awful can they be? These things that boys lead to?


Girl, you really got that something, I think you understand.

Yes! Yes, I do. I understand!

I’m sure I’ve got that something.


But my mother, my bitter mother,

forever angry,

I’m sure does not.


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