When I am twenty I have my first kiss. But
when I say to my mom this was
not my choice, not something
I wanted, she asks me, Why did you
let this happen? Then, Something
like this happened to me too. Then, she answers
her own question:
Words like no or stop or nevermind
were stuck in my throat. I think of choking
on an ice cube, its edges so sharp
and cold they burn. I want to ask her
if she is thinking of this too.
When I’m twenty-one
my friend kisses me. Or I kiss him. It starts
after watching a short video of a comedian
talk about how he never watches himself perform
on TV. I think of the night I was kissed
and didn’t want to be. How the air smelled
like vodka and leather then. I say, Another time,
another time. He rests his soft chin
in my hair, traces circles into my side.
When he leaves, he leaves like it’s a regular
Monday. Like this has happened before.
When he leaves, I brush my teeth
for the length of the alphabet
even though they never felt unclean.
When I’m twenty-two, he kisses me again. I ask
what’s next. I feel like I’m talking
on someone else’s TV. The volume of my voice
next to me, maybe some static
in the corner, half-waiting for canned laughter.
When I’m asking what’s next,
I am saying I don’t know what to do
next, I am asking,
What are your intentions
with my body?
When my mother tells me she once woke up
in college, alone in a stranger’s bed, in a panic,
I try not to imagine where. I try not to think
of whatever SUNY frat house stained
with beer or Rutgers dorm hallway filled with
smoke she thinks of when she says I’m not alone.
When he asks me if I’m okay, if
this is okay, I want to say, This
feels new. When he asks me,
instead, I lean in.
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