After she says "sorry, no"
to "arcade games and ice cream cones,"
she only wishes he was smart enough
to know how he's hurting himself
by asking out someone with
early acceptance to Princeton--
how her heart breaks, too, in
realizing honesty isn't
proportionate to intelligence
as she lies about the boyfriend
driving up from Boston
for homecoming weekend
and sees this rejection hurts more
because he'll never letter
in a varsity sport
or feel the breast of a girl
featured in the dirty limericks
of the boys' private stall.
And, when he's then the one
apologizing for "wanting someone
smarter than himself,"
she only wishes she was able
to double-bag her own emotions
as she feels so dumb
for being the one
who's weeping at the end
of this transaction--
needing his shoulder to lean on--
accepting her offer to walk her
back to her mother's Volkswagon....
where he guides her into the seat,
she thinks, gently as a bag of groceries,
as though he knows her compassion
and kindness are so fragile
now that they've been shaken
from temperature-controlled aisles,
and he's thinking of the widow, Mrs. Thompson,
whose ice cream sometimes doesn't survive
the long slow drive home....