Friday, 31 January 2020


by Nancy Smiler Levinson

I swiped a ten-cent pack
of bareback picture trading cards
from Woolworth. Oodles of poodles,
but I could just as easily have picked
kittens or ladies in summer hats.

My girlfriend, Selena, and I
had ridden the streetcar downtown
and got root beer floats at the lunch counter.
After that we watched caged canaries
and tiny turtles with painted shells.

Then we wandered up and down the aisles.
That’s when I took the pack of cards
and tucked it in my little straw purse.
I didn’t know why.                                   
I could have paid the dime.

Selena told her mother, who called my mother.
Selena told her mother everything.
And she did everything her mother
told her to do and say.

Selena was very pretty, fluttery lashes,
no braces on her teeth, Bermuda shorts and tops
perfectly ironed, always wearing
a hair ribbon or set of barrettes
that matched every outfit.

I don’t remember if I was punished or not,
probably rebuked never ever steal again,
besides what would people think. And my mother
went on, as she did for years to come,
about Selena, why couldn’t I be more like her.

* * * * *

"What I'll Never Forget" was first published in The Evening Street Review (Fall 2018).

Nancy Smiler Levinson is author of Moments of Dawn: A Poetic Memoir of Love & Family, Affliction & Affirmation, as well as stories, poems, and essays that have appeared in Voice of Eve, The Copperfield Review, Third Wednesday, Burningword Literary Journal, Jewish Poetry Journal, Poetica, several anthologies, and elsewhere. In past chapters of her life she published some thirty books for young readers. Nancy lives in Los Angeles.

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