Poetry
12.2 / FALL/WINTER 2017

TONGUE TO TONGUE COOL

We were on the inner tube, you were in 8th grade.
You said Sam with a voice meant to inform me I
was doing something annoying. I looked over and
you pushed me off the tube, head first, the water
crashing my ears to my ankles, my feet flailing to

flip myself and come up for air. Our parents rushed
over, concerned. I bobbed below the raft, not yet
ready to pull myself back on. Or maybe it didn’t
happen this way, this time. I can’t remember. I was
only eight. We were on the tube and I was wet.

You said Sam in the voice you often use for our other
sister, the one we would pick on. You said Sam and
I turned and you asked if I knew what a “French kiss”
was, and I thought of the French, of their chariots and
their cheeses, I said “no” but really I was thinking

about French fries and lunch sides. You explained
about tongues, our parents had went upstairs and
the water was a hazy speckled green and the raft
was blue or red but definitely round and you said
here you said let’s try it and we touched our tongues

it tasted like saliva? it tasted like the smell of dad’s
hairbrush, it tasted like when I slept on your pillow
one time and I must have made a face because you
pulled away and said we wouldn’t tell anyone and,
until this, I haven’t. Until this, it’s been sunk as the

old raft, the metal one we would jump off, or unvisited
like the island we tried to canoe to and got stuck
halfway with no further arm strength, dragged by
jetski back to Grandmother’s house on the lake. The
next year, I date a girl from school, tell her I learned it

somewhere special, she says none of her friends have
heard of it. I am nine years old, she is pressed against
a wall, I am pressed against her hair, and
I am tongue to tongue cool, I am talk to tongue cool,
I am talk to classmates about the tongue cool, I am

classmates with their tongues hidden behind their
throats cool, but then I tried to be tongue to tongue
in the boys bathroom with my best friend cool, his
lips for a second soft as the inside of a book, but I
was tongue to the wall with his hand grabbing my

hair nerd, I was his hand raising my arm so high I
thought it would break nerd, I became boy other boys
don’t talk to unless I needed in sports nerd, because I
could play sports, because I could play tongues, because
tongues are slippery, wet, because my body forgot to

breathe under the raft, because my limbs are fickle
and could maneuver in and
out of any mouth, in and
out of any mouth
I pleased.

 

 

Sam Herschel Wein lives in Chicago and specializes in aimless frolicking. He is a poetry editor for The Blueshift Journal and is co-founder of a new journal, Underblong. His chapbook Fruit Mansion was the winner of the 2017 Turnbuckle Chapbook prize and is forthcoming in Winter 2017 with Split Lip Press. Recent work has appeared in Vinyl Poetry, Pretty Owl Poetry, and Connotation Press, among others. See what he’s up to at shmoowrites.com.


12.2 / FALL/WINTER 2017

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