First Kiss

by Kieran Collier

You used to explore the woods
               by your house like a land-locked Magellan,
clothes tie-dyed brown and green,
               stumbling over twigs and yellow leaves
until the day your leg was kissed—
               a black speck you could have sworn
was simply just another fleck of dirt.
               At first this was no cause for concern.

But it didn’t wash off in the shower,
               clung to you with a near constant hum
of stinging, so you went to the eldest on the block—
               the one-year-older-than-you Michael Santoro.
He put his hand on your shoulder, told you
               That’s a tick. You could die. This was before
your home knew death as an empty bedroom,
               so you just shrugged and said
                              So? I think I can handle that.

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