First Kiss

by Alice White

: Lips

I crushed on a boy named Drew in sixth grade,
wrote a thirty-page letter to Anji,
my best friend, composed mostly of lyrics
to every love song I knew, except that
I swapped his name for each you. Poor Anji.
For I can’t help falling in love with Drew
At last, the summer before seventh grade,
I got my chance: our families were both
on vacation in the same little town
in the mountains. We went hiking one day
and, when no one saw, he held my hand, pecked
my pursed lips. I didn’t like it. Being
liked. With my whole body, I wanted him
gone—back in time, impossible again.

: Tongue

I crushed on a boy named Sean in eighth grade.
What I knew: he was beautiful, and his
favorite shirt said rage against the machine.
I bought the CD, learned every lyric.
The last day of school he signed my yearbook
Will you go out with me? I signed his Yes.
Didn’t see him all summer. Then one night
we were at the same party and our friends
closed us into a bedroom. He shoved me
flat on my back, rammed his tongue in my throat,
clawed at the zipper of my cut-off shorts.
I said Wait—lied—It’s that time of the month.
He got up, walked out of my life. And I
just lay there, finally grateful to bleed.

Originally from Kansas, Alice White now lives in rural France. She is a recipient of the Langston Hughes Award and scholarships from Bread Loaf and the Rona Jaffe Foundation. Alice is a 2022 Hawthornden Fellow and her poetry has recently appeared or is forthcoming in The Poetry Review and The Threepenny Review.

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