In '65, when I was 8,
I had a best friend 
for less than a year

I'd never known anyone 
to move into our neighborhood,
most folks moved out

Gloria and her brother Guy had moved to Alphabet City, New York,
with their Mom and Dad, from somewhere South

I met Gloria in second grade,
we had immediate chemistry,
always volunteered to work together,
did homework side-by-side after school,
ate together, coached one another on wardrobe
(sneakers, laces, how to roll jeans, dresses, and bow-ties)
...but then after a month, I moved up to third grade,
for I had exhibited intelligence outpacing mere mortal 2nd graders,
I lost my daily contact with her, and dozens of other newly-made friends,
as I made my way to the older (smarter?) class, where I found myself,
the new kid

In time, as I settled into the new grade, I did see Gloria more after school, 
we played street games - tag, hide and seek, Ringolivio -
we watched ant colonies through cheap plastic magnifying "glasses", 
played Scully and hopscotch, I protected her from the kids who hadn't taken 
to new kids, and I remember making her smile through those tears 
as well as tears brought on by her family

Her cheeks smudged dirty, her eyes would light up,
her voice thick and goofy as she'd become comfortable, trusting;
so good to relax and be oneself with a friend

Then one day, she was simply gone,
along with Guy and her parents,
as suddenly as they had appeared

And this week, for finding the class photograph - 
Gloria, top row, center, 
in a black and white dress,
me in the row below to the left, in the bow-tie, 
I find myself thinking about her

I need closure, I need to know that someone whom I knew
as a child, today recollects those days, and I want to know 
what they think, what she specifically thinks,
and so I search for her, and I am happy for each
Gloria Peters I find who has gone on to become a teacher,
a nurse, a seamstress, a CEO, I say that's great, and imagine
that it is my Gloria who has achieved those things - but they are not her

I pray your life was wonderful
Gloria, Gloria, come out, come out, wherever you are!

cc: Chagall 2021