6.16 / December 2011

First Time/Four Times

listen to this poem

we planned to lose our virginities
that afternoon. Rashell said she got off on it
how a boy’s body rattles
more than pumps that first time
he hula hoops in a woman’s valley.

we suckled her, all teeth and unclipped nail
calves gone mad for mother’s milk
she laughed. why did no god stop this?

we tired of the breast
2 or 3 sampled her platter
of discount flesh
James handed me a condom.
all my insides run home.

She laughed at my soft self shriveled
in plastic, but how could I explain
my blood and muscle fleeing?
she said “man up!”
but there were no men
only boys making circles with their hips
certain their fathers had done the same

we planned to lose our virginities
that afternoon, under the howling roof
under the worn, stale sheets
under the weight of a girl
already a woman’s size.
she didn’t finch once
she laid there, bored
with our innocent tongues, foul hands
she dreamed of love, how it must
look like a black boy with new braids
and a new shirt who is never ashy
whose skin taste like oranges and salt
who sings only for her
whose whole body must be holy water
who calls her “home”
but she is snatched away
from her private paradise
by the bones of 5 boys
who crave the secret place she already forgot
was there, was even a place at all.

we planned to lose our virginities
that afternoon. I said nothing.

I didn’t say stop or no
or tell her sorry.
I’m sure she barely knew
I was there, you can be inside someone
without being inside someone

I kept my eyes down at my embarrassed flesh
to avoid the soft skin of my friends
their violent beauty
my hips, a bucking prayer
to be her, on my back with men drooling
to kiss a boy and live in his skin
like I imagined.

we planned to lose our virginities
that afternoon and we did.
it’s not my favorite memory.
all I remember is shaking.

Danez Smith is a Cave Canem Fellow living in Madison, WI, where he recently graduated from the University of Wisconsin. He likes tattoos, food, reading good poems, sometimes he writes one too. He's been published in PANK, Vinyl, Radius, and other places, and is a regular contributor to his mother's.
6.16 / December 2011