I recently participated in an event called Word & Image. Writers were randomly paired with artists. The artist selected a piece by the writer and created an artwork in response to it; and the writer selected an image by the artist, creating an artwork in response. I was paired with a talented photographer named Juleen Johnson. She created the photo above in response to my poem below.
Summer at Twelve
The shopkeeper kept silent each time
my friend and I snuck behind the far row
of books, eyes wide at The Joy of Sex.
Perhaps it was time we knew. At
twelve, we bled, could reproduce.
And we were children of the seventies;
innocence so passé. Oh, the wonders in pen
and ink! The endless bodily arrangements!
It was enough to turn adults red as poppies,
to transfix the steadiest mind. But after
the bookstore, we would eat ice cream—
bubblegum flavor, confettied with gumballs,
each fished from our mouths and saved
for later. Tiny, colorful pools of drool
collected like polka-dots on paper napkins where
each gumball sat, counted, to see
who’d scored the most that day. Then we raced
home on bikes, the road frying-pan hot.
Our Coppertone legs glistened like mirages,
flashed the unwitting invitations of angels,