"Sometimes the First Boys Don’t Count"

Since I posted Denise Duhamel’s answer to “Why Do I Write?”…. I thought I’d share a Duhamel poem that I thoroughly enjoy.

Sometimes the First Boys Don’t Count

Walking home through the woods from a movie at the plaza
that I didn’t remember minutes after it ended,
an action adventure that I didn’t want to see, but said yes to
just in case you held my hand, and you did.
Walking home by the shortcut, the path
the developers made because they’d be building houses soon,
we had nothing to say. It was our first date
and you stopped to kiss me, the cold of the mud
wetting my feet. Your tongue, like an animal’s
rough and eager, through the chain link of a zoo’s fence.
I didn’t know you, but you put your hands up my shirt
like it was nothing to either of us.
You cupped each of my breasts as though holding me back,
or measuring me for something, then kept walking,
not taking my hand anymore. Even at fifteen,
I knew you were the type that after the first kindnesses,
the honeymoon was over. Your face in the night
was even flatter, less pronounced than it was in the light.
I knew, before this, that I didn’t love you or even want
to talk to you the next day in school.
I told my girlfriends you weren’t very smart. You took shop
and fixed cars with your dad, not even the intricacies
under the hood, just body work. And when I went to that garage
in your back yard because we were going to another movie
and your mother said I should get you
so we wouldn’t be late, I saw calendar pages curling under a picture
of a topless woman in short-shorts. She was holding a wrench
to her lips. Your dad looked at me the same way you did,
but that was how I wanted to be looked at then — that was how
I thought it should be. You washed the grease from your hands,
wiped your brow with your forearm and were ready. A few dates later
I held your penis as though it were a science experiment
and put it in my mouth when you asked. A kind of aspic squirted out.
I swallowed like a brave girl, taking her medicine.

~ Denise Duhamel, from SMILE

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