POEMS FROM THROUGHOUT THE BOOK ALL THIS SUMMER All this summer when I was alone, I'd think about what he would say and then he said it. He did. He'd walk with me hand in hand in the late afternoons along the sandbar of the Feather River. He'd tell me, "You are the most important person in my life," and then he'd kiss my nose. He would. He'd pull leaves from my hair and say, "Never leave me." But I have. I've left him. I've come back to school, my two feet planted firmly on the ground. I'm a teenager now. I'll never walk with my invisible boyfriend again. But I remember what he said. BACK TO SCHOOL LAST YEAR Last year I worried about where the rooms were and all those kids. I didn't know what kind of binder to buy (three-ring?) or how much lunch money to bring. Last year I got my hair cut the day before school started. Dumb me. It was way too short that first day. And last year I didn't know if I should buy new jeans or if my comfortable overalls would be dorky ... or even if anyone cared. Last year I wasn't sure what time to set my alarm. Last year I was scared. BACK TO SCHOOL THIS YEAR This year I've got the perfect organizer with pockets for every subject (except PE). This year I ironed my lavender shirt three days ago and laid everything out last night. This year I set the alarm for six forty-five: just right. This year I got my hair cut two weeks ago so that it is exactly the right length today. This year I have Mr. C for science, Mr. Barton from Tennessee for language arts and Ms. Konigsberg for chorus. Aga i n . Last year I worried: Who was I? What did I know? This year I put on glitter Chop Stick and go! CARLO'S LAP Laughing, tonight, after Christopher's party, we pile into Yen-Mei Chen's stepfather's car. "No room at the inn," I say softly to Leslie, and even the kids in the front turn and grin. We squeeze in. The door slams shut. I'm shoved on Carlo's lap! words / stick clocks /stop blood /goes cold The car moves. Part of my brain still works. It prays never let this car ride end. IT'S PERFECTLY CLEAR Leslie called me "unsupportive." She said I didn't help her make campaign posters on Friday. Leslie called me "unsupportive." She said she'd made it perfectly clear she needed help on Friday. Leslie called me "unsupportive." She hadn't made it clear. Leslie was a jerk on Friday. ALL I CAN THINK ABOUT All I can think about is kissing him. All I can write about in notes passed to Leslie is kissing and she replies about kissing and more. All I can think about is kissing him and more. GIRL COMING IN FOR A LANING My heart Is coming in For a landing Carrying a suitcase packed with hope I stuffed it' Sat on it to snap the clasps And as my heart dips from the cloud high and slo wly descends, finally taxiing to the gate, someone will unload my suitcase. I am holding its tag tightly. I have come to reclaim it. Taking care ... taking it home. From the Hardcover edition.Wayland, April Halprin is the author of 'Girl Coming in for a Landing', published 2004 under ISBN 9780440419037 and ISBN 0440419034.