My First Kiss Was in a Choir Room

where we hung the white robes.

It was the drummer,
it was the drums. My first kiss

was with a girl who shared
a name with my older sister
& the strip club
on the corner that held women
like secrets.

My first kiss was French
for already. The first word
in the phrase
                                  already seen.

Vu Vu Vu

in the sun-striped Sunday room, and us white-robed.

My first kiss was innocent
the way animals
are innocent. Holy
the way blood

is holy. My blood-beat was the drummer,

it was the drums
I entered suddenly & forever.

Sister, my sister.

And me already seen.
              That’s how it felt—
our sun-striped skin,
                                         the faint piano,

the robes hung up.

Joy Priest is the author of Horsepower (Pitt Poetry Series, 2020), winner of the Donald Hall Prize for Poetry. She is the recipient of a 2021 National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, a 2019-2020 Fine Arts Work Center Fellowship, and the Stanley Kunitz Memorial Prize from the American Poetry Review. Her poems have been commissioned for projects in The Atlantic, the Museum of Fine Arts Houston, and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.