The Second Time

by Anna Šverclová


She left, I rode seven miles to my first
          boyfriend’s house, stuck my tongue deep in 
the wormhole of his mouth, lost time,
          it was so dark– May, September, I gave him a summer,
where did I go? Every night I’d lie
          awake imagining the next, which corners I could yet
surprise him with, my skin parceled
          like magazine installments, cheek, hip, thigh, 
crease, the river, the park, his bedroom, the light booth
          during Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Easter,
Dad had his heart attack, I biked home seven miles in the dark,
          didn’t cry, his old heart,
first and last time I’d catch him in a dress,
          eyes like a dolly, lips like two leeches velcroed to his face,
I didn’t cry then, or later, at Grandpa’s funeral,
          the one who gave me $5 to tell him “I love you,” just watched
the purple of him fade inside the oak casket, didn’t care
          for goodbyes, mother here, mother gone, I’m not surprised,
sometimes, at my candle, I’d wait for someone to die, just so I could burn
          my fingers in the wax, my favorite part of church,
my niece, my uncle, my cousin Jessie, 
          suicide, my sister says
it’s not an accident, dying in our genes,
          once, I walked along the train tracks looking for a place to do it,
but I didn’t, guess I escaped our fate 
          so far, haven’t I?
My sister credits the church, cursive prayer wall decals,
          my father credits the cup, brandy and water,
I credit backstage of my high school production of Zorro,
          where the boy kissed me between the curtains, 
and I had something to dream about instead, 
          magnetism of sex, tension of poles never quite
touching, and later, at the river, when he’d reach under my shirt,
          and we’d bike back smirking the whole way.


back to University & College Poetry Prizes