looking at a blurry jpeg of tina donetti
it must’ve been twenty-three years ago
when we’d walk home together
and she’d talk to me about all of the boys
and i wanted to tell her how much
i liked her
but i was so chickenshit and worthless back then.
she liked dave in our math class
and she liked mitchell, my best friend
in the neighborhood.
she loved watching mitchell play
nurf football on the street.
she got into this habit of asking me
who i liked
and i’d be coy about it for a while
or i’d blurt out the name of some friend of hers
and we’d walk along talking about
some girl that i didn’t give a shit about
that didn’t give a shit about me
and none of it mattered anyway
not the other girls
because i was a fat slob back then
doing a monkey dance of black humor
for the kids in my class
so that i could be ignored at best
left to my own devices
left to rot in my little room.
but tina donetti, you were the center
of my world for a short time
and you didn’t even know it, i’ll bet
a black-haired italian princess
and, yes, mitchell could play a good game
of nurf football on the street.
and, shit, how i longed to have you look at me
the way you looked at him.
and what a surprise it was to see you on this
social networking site
not frozen in time
but older and with wrinkles under your eyes
with kids and a husband
no worse for the wear than any one of us.
your smile is still the same though.
it kind of reminds me of spring
in the pittsburgh suburbs
when anything was possible
and none of us knew just how hard it
or how little of it we’d actually get.