If I Needed Someone

by Bob Bradshaw
The Writer's Block
Second Place, July 2021
Judged by Bruce McRae

The stylus on my record player sighed.
I Feel Fine filled my room
as I recalled yesterday’s concert,
the Beatles onstage.

A ribbon of blood
stretched to my ankle,
I rushed out of my room,
She’s a Woman blaring behind me.

Mama gasped
seeing my bloody foot.
All afternoon she lectured me
on boys and unwanted babies…

Instead of class the next day
I sneaked off to the public pool
where other girls on the lam
twittered away like wrens by the chain link fence.

A boy was grabbing his knees in mid air
cannon balling into the water—
others strolling by
with the rakish swagger of crows.

I worried the chances of a first kiss
would override caution. And Mama?
Out of nowhere Jeff
suddenly lay down next to me

on the concrete deck
talking about our English teacher,
Mrs. Monroe, with her light down
of a mustache.

My heart drummed in my ears;
I was lightheaded, standing
at the edge of the high dive board
for the first time.

Was this kiss gonna happen?
Jeff’s hand touched mine.
I swayed like water
carried in a bucket.

Any moment I would slosh
over the brim.
If I Needed Someone
throbbed from the speakers.

This sharp poem, with an insight into adolescent womanhood few would attempt or could muster, is a very musical poem, in subject matter, trope and construction. I suppose I found it particularly poignant as I was about the age of the author when the Beatles first strolled into town. Note the metaphor stretched over the last two stanzas as particularly tangy. --Bruce McRae