Lodestar Quarterly

Lodestar Quarterly
Figure reaching for a star Issue 19 • Fall 2006 • Poetry

My First Kiss

Hansa Bergwall

The sky curly-qued in a splendid shade
of armageddon. A little bush in the plaza
had a lot to say to the crowd,
"smooth, and soft, across this melted
sunrise party is the answer to pilgrimages."

My host family were photographers
that snapped photos of the drunken (and more)
crowd on La Diana, this small pueblo's
Fiesta. Later, all would stumble hung-
over into the shop and look for proof
of their Dionysian forgettings.

My morning was filled with a song for kisses,
Elvis Crespo, Suavamente, Besa Me!
Smoothly, softly kiss me,
I performed all morning (to applause)
sincere as an American Idol.

Full disclosure: I wasn't even a virgin,
but I had never kissed a boy:
it took jumping, lilting cobblestones,
it took goatskins of wine and plastic
buckets of the same marching through
the streets and spilling over the crowd.

It took strong hallucinogens fed
to me by Apollonian youth,
who, as tradition dictated ripped
the shirts off their amigos
as old ladies hosed them down from balconies.

Forgetting my native tongue
was easy amid all consuming Castilian.
The freedom of tongues was complete.

All the things I said I would never do,
the phrases were incomplete and unpracticed
in my new smooth tongue. Everyone
had a lisp, so I could speak bravely.

A cross dressing trumpeter, without a wig
and sporting a sandpaper chin
kept us in music.
He stopped. Looked at me. Laughed
Leaned over.
"Un beso."
Before I could blink I had kissed him.
He put his horn back to his lips
and marched on to the double time
of a snare played by a big fat man
in a pink paisley slip.

A bucket of cheap wine my friend dumped
over my head dyed my skin
the hue of answers.

At noon the crowd dispersed. I enjoyed
looking for the sacrifice
in the shop downstairs,
and explaining to my host family (in Spanish)
Why I wasn't tired in a room walled
with a mosaic of Arabic tiles.

Hansa Bergwall received his master's in arts journalism from Syracuse University in June 2006. He grew up in Concord, Massachusetts. This is his first poetry publication.

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