by Dan Schultz
(if you can believe a name like that)
had a big head and long, long legs.
She was tall
and always in shorts.
Her legs went up and up,
and my eyes followed further
into the shadows
receding inside of her
striped, terry-cloth shorts
as she ascended further up the climbing rope
in my triple rolled, husky-sized jeans,
as I hung limp on the knot
at the bottom of the other rope.
And my balls ached
and my round cheeks reddened
when Tiffany took the Wrigley's from her mouth
and reached out toward
the mint green glob of fossilized fresh breath
that hung like a cloud
underneath the mint green rafter
of the gymnasium.
Then Mr. Bainbridge took the cap off of his green marker,
and making a mark on his clipboard,
noted and asked in one breath, "Tiffany-ten-points—Drumheller?"
And as he peered over his clipboard
His face fell
as if in the middle of asking, 'What is that smell?'
his eyes were already turning downward
as his sneaker was turning over.
Then he uncapped the red marker.
And the only sound was the sound of Tiffany's feet
hitting the blue wrestling mat
as she dismounted the rope higher
than I could climb.
Then there was the time
Tiffany caught John McKee's supposedly uncatchable stinger.
Mr. Bainbridge lifted the needle on the record
that played the music to her victory dance
when he pointed out that she had not quite won the game of dodgeball
as I had been overlooked
having stood immobile
close to the sidelines, chatting with Zach Rexrode, throughout the game.
Swallowing, I stepped out into the open space
of the gym and openly gazed at Tiffany,
because I had to
and because I was allowed to.
In front of the shuttered cafeteria window,
she stood across from me,
poised, knees bent,
legs spread shoulder width,
sizing me up.
It may have been the longest I had ever held her attention.
Then I blinked,
and felt her
for the first
and only time
through the basketweave pattern of rubber.