With eyes closed, I pictured different boys
from school and TV, practiced kissing them
on my arm in the third row of our family SUV.
I listened to Destiny’s Child and *NSYNC
on my portable CD player—a Casio.
My parents thought I was asleep as I slipped
my tongue slowly in and out of my mouth.
I was good at this. I was ready
for the real thing. I was eleven
and headed to San Luis for Nana’s 65th birthday,
and I knew American eleven meant Mexican thirteen
so if the older neighborhood boys came to the party,
I’d kiss them and they’d say, Wow, you’re good at that.
And I’d know those five hours in the car—
the stop at the gas station in Gila Bend
and again in Yuma, when the neon light
filtering in through tinted windows turned
everything redder, more serious, when I stayed
in the backseat with the luggage and groceries
and pretended to sleep, drool and spit covering
pinkish bruises at the crook of my elbow—
I was good.
I knew it.
I was a natural.