The First Time
Do you remember the first time? How you found that there was no such thing as empty space, the motion of one body pushing air over the other, how it pressed the sweat outwards then gathered it in lines when you pulled them back apart? Remember the way the pads of the fingers ignited on your skin, wrote in braille and in cursive and in lace, the stops and the starts and the eventual path of one fingerprint landing on the next, palms mirrored and in constant flux? Do you remember the hush? Remember how you lost trust in your own body, didn’t recognize it even, all of the things it might do. The pressure and the unending need building there, swelling to a blood-hot flush in your cheeks and in your toes. And that other person—how strange it was that you knew that other person—the two bodies distinct in one moment, freshly exposed, then so blended as to never be undone the same way. What of the hair standing on your neck or goose bumps beneath the sheets? And the fear? Did it bubble in your gut? Did it drip from the tongue of your mother or your god, did it settle in your ear about the ways these things can hurt?
Did you waver at the choice? Remember the movement trembled towards the edge. You shook with the slightest noises you’d never tried before to hide, body so cold in the open, the stiffness, all that bracing for the pain. A breath. Then a lighter flutter in the smile. How long did it take before you plunged and you were back in that place with the indistinct heat, lines running over each other and in? All that beating banging on your veins. Did it make you faint or give you weight? And the skin. Did you notice every place you didn’t feel that other person you felt air.
Remember the breath? Close. Too close. Breath had never been so close to you, not with that body there too, like that, all of the barriers gone—and the clothes. A few words in the ear and you slid your guards down like you’d never been warned before. Remember the last of the fumbles before it was slick, the timid knock of hips testing by pressing back and the quiet consent. The trigger in the lips. An exhale and another exhale, faulty and shaking as you strained against the pull.
Did you slip? Did you blur in the moisture, sweating at the mouth, so much spit falling out that you couldn’t speak. And the mixing? Remember how you stopped ending at the skin and then someone else was there too, pressing through you, closer again, so close you swore you’d lost a fundamental mass. Remember how the knees bent and where the elbows went, one body collapsing onto the next, wondering if one could cleanly untangle again. Remember the thoughts. Endless, wide-open thoughts. Wordless thoughts. Remember the feeling of never having been touched so much.
Was it the first thrust or the last that slammed your breath back dryly in the throat? Remember where you went. That suspension of edge and of time and of fear and the beat of the build. Remember forgetting it all and then doubling back lunging at those vital things tumbling out and gaining speed. Remember the roll. The build and the roll and the build. The grasp for the hem of a god. The muscles taut. The roll and the build and the sheets in your hands and the heat in your bones. Close. You rolled with your pulse moving at the pace of two souls swelling to a common ache. Close. Inflated life igniting within reach. Close. Remember the needing to scream at a pitch that couldn’t be hit. The build and the build. The build and your sweat and the build and your breath and the build and the beat and the build. Close. Too close and then you rose up on a crest. You broke. Remember rushing over death.
Did your next breath punch at your lungs like it did at birth?
And when it was done, did you come down softly? Did you settle into the smoothness of the last kisses in the places you’d least expect? All that wetness and the mess, the way you tried to wipe one from the other, already a little too late, a little too impossible to sort. Remember how it didn’t hurt and it didn’t hurt, wasn’t all that raw. You had a little redness and a smile.
And then remember, looking back, how things grew tangible again. The tangle of the arms and the sheets, the hair in each other’s eyes and the light by the bedside, soles of the feet warming up against the calves and the breathy whispers in the neck. A whole world still revolving past the door. Remember the simple things you said and things you thought. Safe things. Newly common things. You put a hand out and it was met and there was so much that didn’t hurt. And the first time that hand pulled back, did you see how much it could?