Radio Love Poem

It's not true that I had nothing on. I had the radio on
--Marilyn Monroe, in Time magazine, 1952

The radio makes me nervous. But there was a time when I loved it, thir-
teen and falling asleep to the hum of my black-cased transistor, its
leather handle looped securely around one wrist. Pulse beat against pulse
beat, I rocked on the radio's currents, matching my blood and my moods
to the waves of the music, the dee-jays' announcements and even the
commercials for "Su-n-n-days at Raceway Park!"

Murray the K, with his "Swinging Soiree"; wise Roscoe; and Alison
Steele, "The Night Bird" with my own name, who came on at eleven, her
voice of honey filtered over gravel as deliberately sexy as the new fires
catching hold in my body. I knew them all on an intimate basis. I invited
them into my room with a flick of one finger, or carried them with me
--voices that seduced from sixty miles away, downriver in New York
City, brimming with secret knowledge about the meaning of my world.

Summer afternoons, the radio was girlfriend and boyfriend, dangling by
its strap from the handlebar of my old Schwinn as I pedaled five miles
out to clear, grey Lake Mamanasco, music drifting behind me like rain
clouds on the verge of explosion. Baring my pale skin to the flat, white
sun, I lay down, huddled alone on the striped bath towel I had imagined
so Californian, suddenly over-exposed in my homemade paisley bikini
and waiting, just waiting, for the boys who swam and dove like schools
of bright fish oblivious to my shy signals.

From The Blue Dress by Alison Townsend. Copyright © 2003 by Alison Townsend. Reprinted by permission of White Pine Press. All rights reserved.