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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