horst (rough)

by mickharris

she is at a dance in the mountains

at the hotel cafe

with its parquet floor

newly shined

by Nazi money

she is borrowing a friend’s lipstick

because she doesn’t have her own

when she meets horst


i don’t know how to dance

oh, that’s okay, he says, i teach you how


he did ballroom, swing, everything you could imagine

and he was so tall, and an excellent skiier


they were in drama club together when she went to business college

they did a victorian romance

horst came down the aisle, lit from behind

but not enough to hide the hideous yellow tails

the frothing lace around his sharp features

the spots of rouge on his cheeks 

and his powdered wig, yes powdered



i wanted to knock him on his butt, i tell you

she said

i was so embarrassed for him


he was the first (boy, man)

there were others

the contractor with twelve cars

who would come to her office on any excuse

oh he’s here to see you

her boss would say


when a boy stands in the village square with a bouquet of lilacs

carefully placed on his arm

and waits for her

jiggling a foot

counting the thumps his heart makes against his ribs

she rolls down an embankment,

skirts the edge of the village

and takes the long way home