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Still Life with Jackie and Unlit Cigarette
Pat Hale


It was still too early for the raspberries –
they were all canes and spurs and sour fruit –

so we put off picking and swam in the pond,
sluiced water in and out of our mouths,

trying to grow gills, trying to outwit biology,
then sunned ourselves like snakes on the rocks.

After dinner we snuck into the new houses
they were building down the road from us,

walked the rafters, poked into corners
to see what the workmen left behind.

Didn’t find much but crooked nails
and half drunk cokes. We practiced holding

cigarettes and looking cool, but nobody
watched us, nobody knew who we were.

It was nineteen sixty-two, we wore cutoffs
and sleeveless gingham blouses with ruffles.

It was nineteen sixty-two,
and nothing had happened yet, nothing at all.

From Composition and Flight (2011).
This poem first appeared in Connecticut River Review.
Used here with the author’s permission.



Pat Hale is a Connecticut poet with fond memories of her childhood in western Pennsylvania. 
She has loved to read and write since she was a little girl. Pat's award-winning work has appeared in many journals and she facilitates a writing group modeled on the Amherst Writers and Artists method.

Post New Comment:
Pat, This poem brings back so many memories of 1962, before everything happened. Wonderful poem.
Posted 07/19/2011 04:21 PM
Lovely poem, beautiful nostalgic moments of easy days when we were young, raspberry canes, swimming in the pond, the great freedom we had as young ones without the cares of the world. I was a child of the 60's. There were always abandoned houses back then, some under construction, some not. Many memories in this poem:))
Posted 07/19/2011 04:14 PM
Ginny C.:
This poem captures perfectly that moment before everything changes. Beautifully done. Way to go, Pat!
Posted 07/19/2011 09:45 AM
I was born in '64, so I guess nothing had happened yet! Ha ha. I also remember walking in the unfinished houses and finding the remains of the workmen's days, the Cokes and cigarettes, and wondering how it would feel to hold them, and the hammers, in my hands. Thank you for a beautiful poem.
Posted 07/19/2011 09:00 AM
The quiet, familiar situation welcomes the reader in, sets a stage of rememberance, contemplation.
Posted 07/19/2011 08:34 AM
Carol Hauer:
I remember walking through the open frame of the house my friend's parents were building. I remember those sleeveless blouses, too. Thanks for bringing back those sweet memories. And yes, in comparison, nothing had happened yet.
Posted 07/19/2011 08:28 AM
I love this poem and I love how you craft the date at the end with the repetition. Makes me think of some of the things I did as a young teenager growing up.
Posted 07/19/2011 06:37 AM
a beautiful poem--haunting last stanza, considering all that came soon after.
Posted 07/19/2011 06:25 AM

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