Hair and guts and numbers

When I was 13 I wrote a fictional letter.
I played that I was married to my crush
(15, dark eyes, black wavy hair,
face like Clark Gable,
back like Brad Pitt,
and gutless me with no idea what to say).
I played at him away working, and me writing,
telling him our baby’s latest movements
and, as I’d heard adults do,
complaining about the price of petrol.
I played it scary: 33 cents a litre.

Today’s cheapest is 98.9.
Something to do with Venezuela, apparently.
I see no choice but to pay it and try to smile,
but Caltex give me a bonus: the boy behind the counter,
maybe 18, maybe 19,
long red-dyed hair loosely tied back,
eyes deep and quiet,
cheekbones, lips, smooth skin,
and I’m 38 and full of guts
so I give him a second look
straight in the eyes
and he sees it

then I shop for sleek knickers

and go home to the father of my kids,
the laidback geek with the salary package
and the hairy gut and the number-3 beard
and the balding, greying number-2 scalp.

On the radio news a 36-year-old teacher
is jailed for fucking her 15-year-old student

couldn’t handle it