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The First Time

ISSUE:  Spring 1994
There was a sewing machine
already in the wings
as they laid their fig leaves aside.
They didn’t turn the game off,
bottom of the seventh,
a line drive to center—
they watched it with one eye each.
Didn’t take off her blouse
with the flowers, or his shirt
with the bright orange Os
standing in for stamens. Casual,
the way she’d lain back
and summer warmed the beer can on the end table.
But it got to him. She could see
his hands fumbling for a cigarette pack
on their drive out,
his voice so small
in the family sedan,
asking her, “Are you all right?”
She thought it was a funny question
at first, as though he worried
he’d hurt her or made her ill.
She saw his thick
brown fur glistening,
smelling of fabric softener,
remembered his thin body
so weightless on top of hers. She felt all right,
all right, and later thought his question
indicated he must have guessed
her answer wouldn’t be
“No, I’m caught afire,”
though it would be the same for both of them,
the feeling that nothing had been added
or taken away.


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