Knockout

by Kevin Sweeney

I felt she was cheating on me that afternoon
in front of Melman’s Market. I was a limp 14.
The boy holding her hand looked 17. She
laughed when he pulled her close, breasts
rising and falling inside a navy blue cotton shell.

My grandmother told my father: Look at that girl;
she’s a knockout while I, her one time classmate
at Resurrection School, sat in the back seat of
the station wagon with a ¼inch dick. She was

Susan Waters in Pittsburgh where everyone’s name
was Pierogi or Halupki, but she had the movie star
moniker plus blond hair and blue eyes authentic
as nonchain burgers and handcut fries.

I hadn’t seen her since we’d left for samesex high
school. I’d never heard “knockout” used that way.
I thought of Emile Griffith KOing Benny “Kid” Paret
not long after my mother died; Paret died too.

I was afraid I’d never get any better at football,
that math had my number and girls would
prefer 17yearold scientists who understood
the mysteries of the human frame.

I knew my mother could have explained why
Susan Waters wasn’t cheating and why
she looked not only beautiful but happy.