for Billy who wore black-framed
square glasses held together
at the nose and in the middle

of one arm by dirty medical tape.
He had a chipped front tooth
advertising some rougher life

than he led on. We were not impressed
by his cheerful manners. But
this boy didn’t quit; he chased,

followed, adored all of us
girls in grade four, worked
opportunities to catch our attention,

during recess and after school. Forgetting
the other boys, he placed each of us
as though we were precious

orchids in a bowl. On Valentines,
he would send every girl
half a dozen hand written cards

declaring his love and oh how
we would rage at his daring—
some of us would later corner him,

uneasy with his attention. And because
he was smaller, we would hurt
him with our fists, breaking

those glasses again and again
along that same fractured bone.
And the following Feb. 14,

in different school, in another class,
he’d deliver a half dozen
love notes to each of the girls and why this

open admission, gestures aimed
with the smallest amount of hope,
cause such anxiety at all.

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