First Times

By Sydney Avey

The first time he made love, he was hopeful
a Jewish boy untethered from old-world traditions
unbothered by that one physical sign
he was uncircumcised
she was horrified.

The first time she bled, he was mystified
He knew virgins bled the first time
he did not expect actual blood, a bright stain
on the towel he laid under them, did not expect
she would react more to the discomfort and blood
and less to any pleasure he hoped to experience.

The first time his mother told him
To expect rejection from the girl’s family
he did not understand
when her mother asked: what clubs do you belong to?
his mother’s words returned to him
and he understood.

The first day he saw Eric
so beautiful, so perfect
he did not know such people existed off screen
graceful in movement
mesmerizing in manner
his world changed forever.

That was the first time he felt like Eve
biting the apple
watching the familiar landscape change
and like Adam
fumbling for an excuse.


Sydney Avey lives in the Sierra Nevada foothills of Yosemite, California, and the Sonoran Desert in Arizona. She has a bachelor’s degree in English from the University of California, Berkeley, and a lifetime of experience writing news for non-profits and corporations. Her work is featured or forthcoming in Foliate Oak Literary Magazine and American Athenaeum. Sydney blogs at on topics related to relationships, legacy, faith, and the writing life. Her novel, “The Sheep Walker,” is due out from Chalfont House in 2014.

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