Something Normal


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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