Richard Widerkehr

Spin The Bottle: 1958

Spielende Formen by Franz Marc

I remember the front closet in the dim foyer
of Deena Mitzfeld’s place in Forest Hills,
which had no forest and few hills. The bottle
we spun had pointed to my toes, her toes, her knees
encased in white knee socks with a blue stripe.
In the rummage sale of shadows in her closet,
we kissed like minnows. The brush of her lips—
no, it wasn’t nothing, but what was it?

I can’t recall the smell of her hair, whether
our fingers touched. Almost as if our bodies
were off in Bakersfield—her father’s suit coats
could have been zoot suits for all I knew, and her
mom’s frocks—did I even know the word frock?
We said nothing, as if we were suppliants
fated to enact this ritual of coats and shadows,
tacit witnesses who, if they saw us, had the tact

to say nothing. As we two were fated never
to say word one about our—well, it was my
first kiss. I don’t recall what floor of that brick
monolith Deena’s parents’ apartment was on,
only that the living room window looked out
on a jungle gym in the tentative playground
where next day I would hold out my arms,
a paper airplane with no regrets, and fly.


About the writer:
Richard Widerkehr’s work has appeared in OPEN: Journal of Arts & Letters (O:JA&L), Rattle, Writer’s Almanac, Verse Daily, and many others. He earned his M.A. at Columbia University and won two Hopwood first prizes for poetry at the University of Michigan. His third book of poems, At the Grace Cafe, has recently been published by Main Street Rag Press. He reads poems for Shark Reef Review.

Image: Spielende Formen by Franz Marc (1880-1916). Oil on canvas. 25.7 x 66.9 inches. 1914. Public domain.