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July 2017, vol 13 no 2

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Charles Tarlton


CARMODY: The older we get, the more important memory becomes, as if we were always taking stock as the end comes nearer.
BLIGHT: [Sings] “To all the girls I’ve loved before...”

I was twelve when I went to the birthday party of a girl in my class at St. Bernard’s school in Bellflower. One of the games we played was spin the bottle, and when it was my turn to spin, it pointed straight at Louisa Capp. This was awkward because I had a wild crush on Louisa, and now she had to let me kiss her. I remember the skin of her cheek on my lips – warm, dry, and slightly salty, and she smelled of Ivory soap. There was a flyer from the school in the mail today asking for money and, one thing and another, it made me think about Louisa. I looked her up on Google to see what she was doing and I found an obituary for a Louisa Capp Owens, who was born in 1937, like me, and who had also grown up in Bellflower, but who died in Los Angeles ten years ago at the age of 70. She had suffered from Alzheimer’s, her middle-aged son said, although at the time she died she could still sing all the words to “Mairzy-Doats” from memory.

what were they, the girls
before we started writing
their initials next
to ours? Can you remember
how we had to learn to dance?

now I think about
how I wanted to be a priest
but for all the wrong
reasons. I thought I’d be handsome
in my collar, in my robes

they were all the same
the girls and women I loved
ideals that were formed
in those early childish days
looking always for the one