We lay sprawled together
in my mother’s brand new,
white lace bedspread,
fingers entwining,
legs scarcely touching
except by accident.

This is the way
young couples lay in the
black and white movies
her mother calls romantic.
How could she know those couples
were usually on the verge of
breaking up, not fumbling
towards a relationship?

She took an interest in me,
awkward legs and gangly arms,
before I even knew girls
could be more than playmates.

She props herself upon an elbow
reaches across and brushes
the hair from my eyes.
Answering my inquisitive look she says,
“That’s what the girl does in the movies.”
I stare at the pale, patterned ceiling and
ask her what happens after that.

The stark white of the ceiling abruptly
frames her summer tanned face
as she leans over me.
Her sun-bleached hair envelops
my face as she brings her
petite, chapped mouth to mine.
Her lips scratch like tree bark,
and as she presses them to mine,
her eyes are closed
as if this is a ritual not to be witnessed.
Chastised by her simple reverence,
I concentrate on her lips,
trying to recollect every kiss
I’ve ever witnessed.

Her dryness turns soft and wet on my lips,
and before I can react, her tongue is
prying apart my tightly clenched lips.
Her tongue slides into my mouth as I gasp
and her eyes open in mutual astonishment.
To cover our embarrassment,
I ask her what comes next.

“The man always tells the woman he loves her.”
There is a pause as I contemplate the
never-ending pattern on the roof of this chapel.

She asks me if I love her.
I know nothing of love,
so I follow the script.
Maybe this is love.
“I love you.”
I try to think what a
leading man would say next.
I settle for, “with my whole heart.”

She grins down at me,
her deepest hopes and dreams realized
in those seven simple words.

“Now the man asks the woman to marry him”
she says without prompting.
Again, what do I know of marriage?

“Will you marry me?”
I wait for her reply.
I ask her is she’s going to answer me.
Her smile falters and she says she doesn’t know,
she’s never seen that part of the movie.