First Love


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Despy Boutris has been published in Copper Nickel, Colorado Review, American Poetry Review, and elsewhere. She teaches at the University of Houston and edits The West Review  [+]

Image of Short Circuit #05

We head toward the peach orchard,
the one we found midsummer
at the edge of town, past the honking horns
and the lot where that kid cracked his skull

at the county fair last year — the same night
my parents fought and my mother’s favorite vase
shattered and my father slammed the front door
and didn’t come back. We scale

the barbed wire fence to pilfer fruit —
no mind the rust rimming our calluses
nor the way we’re breaking
and entering. We trample through the dirt,

losing ourselves in rows of trees, limbless
in the August heat, infinite now
that school is done for good
and we’re fleeing this tiny town.

I watch, fixated, as you stop — trace the spine
of a trunk. Sunbeams dye your eyes
honeygold, sunspots sprout
on your cheeks, the wind

winds through your hair, the coffee-brown
curls curling and swirling, set alight
as the sky begins to blush bright scarlet. We
each pluck a peach from the tree

and I watch your teeth scrape the velvet
skin as we revel in their ripeness, the taste
of our mouths. Juice drips
down your knuckles onto your wrist,

and I’m hungry now, hungering
for your hand. You mouth your skin, slurp
a drop of nectar before it drops
down — salty sweat

meeting sweet. And we’re sticky with sweat
so we sit. The tree-shade shelters
our faces from the sinking
sun as the day darkens like a bruise,

fireflies finding us, and, for the first
time, we see how much has gone
to waste. Fruit rots around the base
of the trunk, wormeaten as corpses, reeking

like roadkill, sickeningly sweet as the peaches
we eat, the taste of our mouths, the reminder
that even the sweetest sweetness spoils.

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