March 1, 2011


I stood behind Melissa Maroon,
stared at her budding curves,
bright pink bathing suit,
sun-kissed legs that climbed
step by step to the top of the dive.
She smiled at her giggling girlfriends,
pinched her nose, made little splash.
Even while flopping into water,
surfacing with damp hair,
she made me blush.

When my turn came, my teeth chattered,
my weak heart sunk.
Melissa shouted, Go, Bri Go!
How did she know my name?

My dive had to be just right,
a perfect splash, high fives from the guys.
Then maybe she’d see beyond
my chicken arms, chicken legs,
zits dotting my nose,
bony hips barely holding my bathing suit.

I clenched my fists, closed my eyes,
bounced once, jumped off.
Water stung my belly, burned my eyes.
I pushed my body out of the pool,
collapsed next to Melissa’s giggling girlfriends.
She glared at them, walked over to me, and said,
That was the best belly flop I’ve ever seen!

I gave my towel back to her,
strutted to the ladder for another chance.
I forgot about my bony hips,
bony arms, bony legs.
This time I performed a dive perfect enough
to earn a peck on the cheek from Melissa,
a high-five from all the guys.

brian fanelli (Scranton, PA, 1984)