Do you want to try it? she asked,
to see what it’s like?
At camp for the fourth year
in a row, suddenly we were looking
at the boys more than our music.
In the shared bathroom, If it’s yellow,
let it mellow! signs were plastered on the door
of every stall. It was late—long
after lights out. But she & I never
could sleep. & that night was no different.
We had slow danced
with boys for the very first time
& I still felt the echo of clammy hands
on my hips, the boy they belonged to long
forgotten by now. I felt myself wondering
how it might have felt had he & I kissed.
We were talking about that. & she
played the flute & swore it made her
a better kisser, smirking, I can hold my breath
longer. & I argued, But I play
piano. That proves I have strong hands.
Even then we knew the power of hands, how good
it felt when we scratched each other’s backs
before bed. & then she looked down
at my hands, all long fingers & torn
cuticles & nails cut short to keep
from butchering Chopin by clicking
against the keys. She bit her lip.
-Do you want to try it?
-You know. To see what it’s like.
She hopped down
from the counter, wiping away
what water had soaked through her sweats.
She stepped forward, so close
I smelled her mosquito repellant. I cracked
my knuckles, unable to stop
once I began. She trained
her eyes on mine. I don’t know
how. She licked her lipglossed lips,
shrugged. Stepped closer.
& closer. I lifted my hand to her
cheek—what I’d seen my mother do
to my father on their good mornings.
We were exchanging air:
my breath in her lungs, her taste
in my mouth. & then our licked lips
touched. Our hard teeth. & then her tongue
was in my mouth. & mine in hers,
my boyish hands keeping her body close,
her hoarse breath caught
in my throat. The music, the theory,
the wandering hands. This touch.