Before I go, I have something to say


Piercing the juniper berry,
I think of gin, that first swig
I took in the kitchen with him.
Lying on the floor, alone in the house
for the night, homework done or unattended,
we performed our own science experiment.
If I lie down on top of you, if I let you
lie on top of me, if I kiss your lips
smelling like bubble gum, if I swallow
this gin that smells so good – How will it feel?
How will it taste? Will my parents get home
in time to save me?

When he drove my car, the steering wheel
got sticky from his after-school job
at the Dairy Queen. It’s not even made
of milk, he told me, letting me in
on a secret, just as I had lied
to my parents about my destination.
We’d drive around downtown,
then head out to that place
by the county line where, if you sped up
just fast enough, the car went airborne
for a good long moment before
it dropped your heart and stomach.

Out there in the country, he lay me down
in the back seat and took off my blouse.
I wondered how far we’d have to go
to feel connected, his sticky hands
beneath my bra, my inexperienced mouth
wherever he wanted it. Oh, what
my parents don’t know, I thought
to myself as I gave in. The gin dropped
by inches, but my clothing,
my so-called limitless future,
it dropped like that heart,
like that first swallow.


Published in Crab Orchard Review, Summer/Fall 2008

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