Joseph Pulitzer Junior High September 1959 – June 1961 I think we spoke but fifty words, all told. No more than that, and most were just polite— A brief exchange of greetings or a comment On some observed absurdity or joke... The school did not encourage us to talk. Perhaps we would have said more, had I not Been awkward, skinny, tongue-tied, overawed By what I sensed when drawing close to you: Quiet perfection and gentility; Maturity beyond your thirteen years; A loveliness conjoined with silent grace; A knowledge and a sympathy that come Most commonly from long experience. You stood out from that raw, pubescent crowd Like one of the Three Graces. When we danced At the school’s social, I let my hand rest As lightly as I could against your waist, And held your hand as if it were a flower The slightest pressure might have crushed. You smiled At my restrained politeness, but said nothing. Perception, awareness, tolerance, discretion— You saw my need, but held back all response Because you divined my child-like helplessness. Since that time a day has not gone by That I have not thought back upon your face, Your slender form, your modulated voice, Your graciousness, as chaste as fresh-cut lilies, And held these as my precious talismans— The only remnants of a long-gone world Where I touched Incorruption, knowing you. Joseph S. Salemi has published five books of poetry, and his poems, translations and scholarly articles have appeared in over one hundred publications world-wide. He is the editor of the literary magazine Trinacria. He teaches in the Department of Humanities at New York University and in the Department of Classical Languages at Hunter College.