An Amateur’s Guide to Summer

by Lance Larsen

Beginner’s kiss, kitchen kiss, kiss my nose kiss,
crash kiss, pesto and blue corn chips kiss,
that was the summer you tracked them all,
the summer we flunked driver’s ed
so we walked everywhere, like vagabonds
we walked, like barefoot children we walked,
I was Aries and you were second trombone,
you were Gemini, the birthday girl,
and I was mow the widow’s lawn every Thursday,
lemonade kiss, lip gloss kiss, good news
barbecue kiss, that was the summer
of shortcuts, through backyards and over
fences, the summer your cousin took
his life but you didn’t tell me for weeks,
the kisses growing softer and sadder,
penguin kiss, balcony kiss, hurry hide
from the cops kiss, and we crossed the river
by stones and jumped on the trampoline
you called Blue Spaceship, then finally
your cousin’s story fell out of your mouth,
the rowboat across the pond, failed meds,
the terrible waterskiing rope, then rain fell
on us, and kisses followed, crying kiss,
hello I’m the lost girl kiss, just be with me kiss,
I touched you but you didn’t touch back,
I was tennis shoes and sunburn,
you were sandals and grass in your hair,
then a black dog circled the trampoline,
was this a sign, you asked, my cousin adored
big sloppy pooches, so we climbed down,
you tousled his ears then gave me
a falling star kiss, and I shook the dog’s paws
and gave you a welcome back to the world
kiss, that was the summer before you moved
to Michigan, the summer before I got
my license and gave up on therapy walking,
the summer you said I’m trying to believe
in everything, reincarnation, henna, stuffing
letters to the departed in a bottle and throwing
them off Buffalo Cliff, and I asked
is it working, is any morning sky getting in,
and you said, there are kisses we’ve never
dreamed of, and later we invented
them, the peach kiss, the Ouija board kiss,
wade under the bridge barefoot kiss,
the kiss until the dead say to stop kissing kiss.

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