Rooja Mohassessy

First Kiss


I wish someone had explained

how wide to open for that French

kiss, how to keep my front teeth

out of his way, angle my nose,

breathe and let the tip of his tongue

probe like a feeler.


I tried dodging to make room,

rolled mine into a morsel, nursed

it inside one cheek then the other,

feeling a growing need to spit.


If he entered too far, I stifled

the gag, when he slid under, I drew back.


It thickened when he relaxed,

slugged in my crammed mouth, sloshing

through excess saliva.


He’d pull away then quickly resume,

kiss me again, then again,

as though he had yet to get what he’d come for.


With each brief lull I came up for air, swallowed

the buildup in my mouth like I would at the dentist,

the taste of hard liquor, laced with the scent

of a stale ashtray.


I told myself with time I’ll get this,

the way I’d learned to swallow whole chunks

of French steak, rare and tough.


No, I wish someone had explained this was

an invitation of sorts. I’d been invited

to la dance des langues:


I wish he’d curtsied,

as it’s done at a French ball, to commence

a menuet á deux mouvements.


I wish he’d lingered, my lips the rounded

doorway, bowed

a little to enter and greet


Marguerite the pearl of daisies, damp at dawn,

not a dent de lion, or a common sedge

the buck-teethed teenager,

her breasts only just budding.


O how I would’ve looked upon him then,

with my dark eyes.

I would’ve danced, taken the heat, the burn

of the new day. My mouth young,

O so eager to please.


Rooja Mohassessy was born in Iran. She has lived in Europe, Asia and the United States. She is currently a candidate at the MFA program of Pacific University, Oregon. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Narrative Magazine, Poet Lore, California Fire and Water: An Anthology of Poems, Southern Humanities Review, Bare Life Review, Woven Tale Press (nominated for a Pushcart Prize), and elsewhere.