Stage Kiss

Marjorie Hazeltine

Marjorie Hazeltine

First Place | Age 18+ Category | Spring into Poetry Contest 2024 | San José Public Library

The stage lights created a heat
that hung over us, 
and in the air
dust particles waited, suspended in anticipation.

He didn't want to do this 
and I felt it—
My heart raced like a kitten 
terrified of being held 
terrified of not being held.

My character was a maid, his a cad;
We weren't in our costumes.
His t-shirt hung loosely on his skinny frame.
In the script the words sat 
innocent and italicized:

(They kiss.)

The black paint of the stage was peeling
beneath my sandals and green-painted toes. 
The taste of fear and anticipation lingered
like a sharp cheese under my tongue. 
He wouldn't meet my gaze 
but his face approached mine.

(They kiss.)

All I could feel was teeth and bone
two unsharpened pencils
pressed longwise against my mouth—
Where did his lips go?

We pulled away.

The stage lights flooded my vision
and I couldn't see the director
when he said,
"You'll keep practicing."

Somewhere in the haze of light and sweat
the teenage promise of a first kiss
floated just out of reach
and then lazily drifted up into the rafters
disappearing among the dusty, suspended curtains. 

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