First Times

Michael Dickman

Fall 2017

The first time was kissing Sabrina across the street from the house where I grew up. We were standing on the sidewalk, and I’m almost certain that my twin brother was standing there as well and so was a friend of Sabrina’s who had just kissed him, I can’t remember her name. There were plum trees and most of the plums were rotten on the ground. You could smell the plums turning over inside themselves. Dogs barking. My Superman curtains looked out from my bedroom window across the street and didn’t say a word.  

Nine or ten years old, we made our nervous way a short distance into each other’s bodies and every word I ever used to describe anything fell apart inside my mouth and around her tongue.  

How did we know to use our tongues?  

Small birds know as much.  

They reach out for their mamas with their tongues going cheep cheep cheep. In and out, flick flick flick, cheep cheep cheep. Sabrina and I stopped speaking English. I lay down beneath her pink palate and fell asleep in a dream of — what was that — cherry gloss, Jolly Ranchers, and Aqua Net? 

Michael Dickman was born and raised in the Pacific Northwest. His latest book, Green Migraine, is out from Copper Canyon Press.

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