The Worst Thing I Ever Taught a Girl

In the spring of the last year
we were together,
I walked your niece to the playground
down the block from your brother’s house.
There was sun and moss.
I pushed her on the swings,
sprang from bent knees on the teeter-totter,
climbed with her over the monkey bars.

We sat together then
on a long stretch of railroad tie
at the base of the playground, near the creek.
We were careful of the splinters.
She asked me if I loved you and I said yes.
She asked if we were going to get married and I laughed.
Not a gleeful laugh, nor one of spite, just a giggle
as wickedly innocent as each of her seven years.

I don’t know, I said,
that’s up to your uncle.