Dear Johnny Castle

Though we were only nine, and Jasmine was from Turkey,
and I was from Poland, we were suddenly American, too,
and wanted that summer at Kellerman’s in the Catskills
to last forever, just like Baby did. We wanted to grow up
 
faster so we could make mambo magic with you,
and when Penny, your best-friend-ex-Rockette told us
to shake ‘em, we wanted those maracas to be real, though
they wouldn’t be for years. We cheered for the justice of it
 
all, when you told Robby-the-scumbag-waiter:
You just put your pickle on everybody’s plate, college boy,
and leave the hard stuff to me. And when we saw the sign:
STAFF QUARTERS, NO GUESTS PLEASE,
 
we ignored it, too. We carried that watermelon,
and felt our knees give out when you crooked
your finger and cocked your head, and led us
onto the dance floor for the first time so we could roll
 
our hips in the wrong direction after you spun us dizzy.
And we knew you were trouble, in the pits of our stomachs,
or maybe lower, and we didn’t care that our fathers had
already decided on the kinds of boys we’d marry.
 
All we wanted to do that entire summer was to dance
the Mashed Potato with you, on that famous log,
though we fell off the balance beam in Jasmine’s basement
every couple of steps, and so settled for slow-dancing
 
with the couch cushions, imagining ourselves
in your cabin, with Otis Redding crooning “Arms of Mine”
on the record player, while we told you: I’m scared
of walking out of this room and never feeling, the rest of my life, 
 
the way I feel when I’m with you. And though boyfriends
would never hear this line, we’d whisper it to you every night
before bed, and you would dip us low, and kiss us high
between our shoulder blades, behind our newly-pierced earlobes.
 
And then we’d always remember that August summer,
when we almost broke the VCR’s “rewind” button
watching the final dance number, that summer before
we knew you were the only one who’d ever love us right.