Issue 14
First Time

Soles of our bare feet scuffed
gravel down the old logging road, farther
than my new permit
and the car I’d stolen from my father
would drive. She’d hooked

my belt loop, both of us
stumbling deeper
into thickets of hackberry, trembling
as we nudged each other on.

We didn’t talk. Neither of us
could find whatever we looked for
under her t-shirt, inside
my unzippered surrender,
with the slow clock of sunlight
beating us down.

Nothing lasted
in the flash of that day
more than a painful rise inside her
ribcage, her shoulders’ quake.
The deep bloodless welt
where she’d wormed herself against a gooseberry.
The imprint of thorn and needles
tattooed on my thigh.