About this Poem 

"This poem I imagine is one of several poems retroactively reclaiming the moment/s of my self-discovery as a sexual being. They're a look back at my body's awakening, its (the body's) recognition that it is composing its own morality."
—Roger Bonair-Agard

Because I cannot remember my first kiss

Roger Bonair-Agard

but I remember sitting alone on the brown
couch in my grandmother’s living room,
couch whose cushion covers were of velvet
and the color of dark rust, or dried blood
—and sewn by the tailor from up the block,
the same one who made me my first light blue
suit two years earlier 
             And I sat there running my hands back 
             and forth
over the short smooth hairs of the fabric
and understanding what touch meant
for the first time—not touch, the word,
as in don’t touch the hot stove or don’t
touch your grandfather’s hats but touch
like Tom Jones was singing it right then
on the television, with a magic that began
in his hips, swiveled the word and pushed
it out through his throat into some concert
hall somewhere as a two-syllabled sprite,
so that women moaned syllables back in return.

And I knew I wanted to touch
like that		because
Tom Jones stooped down at the edge
of the stage and a woman from the audience
in a leopard-print jumpsuit unfurled
from her front row seat, walked like
a promise of what I couldn’t quite 
discern up to him and pushed her mouth
soft and fast up against his mouth
and they both cooed into his microphone
mouths still move-moaning together
like that for an eternity.  And then 
Tom Jones unlocks his mouth from hers
while my breath is still caught
in my throat, and moves to the other
end of the stage, and squats there, 
and kisses another woman from the audience
in a black jumpsuit, while the first
woman looks on, swaying so slightly
I almost can’t tell—to the band
which is still vamping the chorus line—
mesmerized and taut with expectation as I 
am, palms down on the velvet-haired 
cushions	       and Tom pauses, sensing
the first woman’s impatient almost-mewling
and says Easy Tiger while he moves his mouth
against this woman’s, his cheeks working 
like tiny bellows, before returning to the first
one	and then the bridge or the chorus
or whatever—at that point the song 
is an afterthought, and I knew there was
a mission to be fulfilled—Tom Jones
pointed to the women and said touch
and the new color TV made everything
shimmer with promise so my eight year old
body preened and stretched itself against
the ecstatic couch and dreamed of what
tomorrow could be like if I could make
touch mean so many things, if I could
make a building or a body coo like this.

Copyright © 2013 by Roger Bonair-Agard. Used with permission of the author. This poem appeared in Poem-A-Day on November 14, 2013. Browse the Poem-A-Day archive.

Copyright © 2013 by Roger Bonair-Agard. Used with permission of the author. This poem appeared in Poem-A-Day on November 14, 2013. Browse the Poem-A-Day archive.

Roger Bonair-Agard