For Girls and Grief | Abigail Staub

For the love of poetry, and the rawness and honesty of discovering one’s sexuality

VAGABOND CITY

The first girl I ever kissed had a mouthful of luring words and veins full of Percocet.
I wore the potent perfume of pineapple vodka on my breath and wilted forward into her lap,
all curled up at the edges like a water-logged book.
We were perched on the end of a leather couch in someone’s basement and the television flickered and buzzed to mask the
piercing pounding of my heartbeat against the rib cage.
Her voice lilted softly in my ear, “Do you want to kiss me or not?” but my skinned, purple knees quivered as I questioned what people would think
when they saw me tangled up in the limbs of some Venus,
and not softly swallowing the saliva of a sweaty, calloused boy.
That was how it was supposed to be,
when you were sixteen with red lips and black stockings,
slurring empty proverbs to strangers.
Still, I…

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