Challenge from Jennifer Jowett: write a poem about an important “first” in your life

turning the page

June 1985
blue Canon Snappy 35 mm with a wrist strap,
locked and loaded

red double-decker diesel buses
black smoke trailing

old-fashioned white paper tickets to Starlight Express
rich black voice raising hairs on my arms, singing
“there’s a light at the end of the tunnel!”

British landscapes of John Constable
at the National Gallery

shared yellow Shandy in a rental car – a preachers’ family
driving (underage drinking, too) because we didn’t know
it wasn’t Coke

thick brown slabs of bacon
with charred red breakfast tomatoes

rich Earl Grey, swirling steam
in fancy china teacups and saucers
clinking daintily

brown and white sugar clumps I mistook
for crumpets – white and wheat
identifying myself as American at first bite

ornate gray facades of majestic cathedrals

blue denim jacket, colorful nickel-sized buttons
collected like a passport-stamped footprint

pitch-dark subway stop, Dad wondering aloud
in the silence: “Is this Oxford?”
“crazy American” chuckles all around

……but the best first of London:
the smell of age-old books, timeless classics
in creaky-wooden-floored bookshops,
worn covers waiting to be loved by
me

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