First Kiss
Stephanie Humphries

He drew a rose

and slid it between the slits of my locker

in eighth grade.

Then came the notes asking for a hug.

No, I explained,

hugs were inappropriate on school property.

The popular girls

noticed him paying attention to me,

soon threatened to fight me.

But at a birthday party,

he found me all alone,

exiting the bathroom.

He coaxed me back inside

and, there, he kissed me.

I loved him, in a way

old people think

young people are incapable of.

A love as warm and easy

as wiping milk off your mouth

with the back of your hand.

Our angry houses hurt us both.

We’d console each other,

dream together on the phone

after everyone had gone to sleep.

Those late nights,

lying on the bedroom floor

awaiting the ring

with my finger on the switch hook,

it was then just the two of us,

caring for each other

in ways we didn’t yet have words for.