We’d sprayed gold paint into paper bags
and huffed the fumes. Detached from body,
self a phosphorescent bubble ahover in some
bright-colored world, somewhere askance
from here. My boyfriend passed out.
Sometimes, when one says love, she means
A sour drink that tastes better than loneliness
or the door that leads out of myself.
I’d started young on some ill-trodden
overgrown path, one with No Trespassing
and Beware and At Your Own Risk
sprinkled along the borders like flowers.
Love was so big, right? Yet everyone
claimed they were in it. One day
walking through the halls of Park Junior High
I saw a wild-haired girl with the same smashed glamor
as Courtney Love, wearing a shirt that said,
If I can’t find Love, I’ll settle for Lust.
The word love was in a smarmy, flowery script.
The word lust burned with pain. It seared
like something real. I’d found my philosophy.
Many miles down my coyote-smitten, wild
tiger lily-ridden path of lust I was walking
into the school cafeteria and saw you. I dropped
all my books. Just like nothing special
it had happened: I’d stumbled onto Love.
You sat beside me on the couch and somehow
with nothing much said we were suddenly kissing.
You stopped to say I love you. You need to understand
I wouldn’t remember this for a year. The golden fumes
plucked us free from chronology, from history.
I said I loved my boyfriend. I will never know why.
Next thing you’re on the porch swinging your legs,
back to us, pouting, saying Fuck you to every entreaty.
I sat in your friend’s lap and he said Do you want
to fuck him? I said yes and at least that was true.
She says she wants to fuck you buddy! he yelled
out to the porch and then I don’t know what, it isn’t clear,
I was waking up, being jerked about violently,
I didn’t know where I was, I realized I was being fucked
so I called out my boyfriend’s name. Suddenly a hand
slapped me, covered my mouth, and there you were,
menacing, angry, hair about you like a patch of briars
saying, Look who is fucking you now, bitch!
I think I realized I loved you one day in your car.
We were all laughing and it was summer, so bright,
sunlight was glazing the windshield in stripes.
Suddenly I felt very blessed so blessed and I knew
this was about being with you.
Once a health and nutrition teacher told us
that there is no love like your first love,
that you will grow up and love others and get married
but you’ll always remember the first one.
And the class bullies laughed and made fun
when he said they were still close friends.
Ye gods it was not meant to be like this.
Some days I still fantasize we run into each other
in a bar or Walmart or at the mall and it takes a moment
before we recognize one another. We mist over
that night or we don’t mention it at all.
We go out we have drinks we decide on – not fall into–
loving, and with caresses simple and gentle we undo
the night with the gold paint, we make it right somehow,
and it doesn’t matter what happens next because then
it is fixed. I am fixed. You are fixed. We are normal
people again, like we should have been all along.
Of course this will never happen. All that can happen
is for me to have the courage to finally be
my hearthstone, my guidepost, my goddess Persephone–
holding Spring in one hand, Hell in the other–
Saying, you were my first love. You raped me.
Yet, underneath the fury, I still love you.