Reader’s Pick: Carley Moore, “The First Time.”
For our latest “Reader’s Pick,” Roy Pérez chose a poem from the winter submission pile called “The First Time,” by Carley Moore. Roy said,
“There’s something distracted and fearless about this Europa, the patrician woman in Greek myth who is carried off by Zeus in the form of a white bull. The classical allegory of rape and the modern narrative of first-time sex are entangled in a way that’s both complex and everyday. The character’s distraction from what’s happening masks the violence of the scene. We see the violence instead in the disappearance of other relationships shrinking into the distance and expanse of blue engulfing her ahead. The final lines render the experience both as a rite of passage and an unfair damage endured by women. I love the character’s strength, the fearlessness with which she mounts the bull, and profound sympathy with which the speaker views the past self in the last phrase.”
Carley Moore – “The First Time”
Never get on something.
If you do, never get thrown off.
He comes with other bulls,
but he separates himself.
Later, he’ll kneel
so that you can mount him.
He’ll carry you across the
surface of the ocean.
You’ll lose your dress.
But right now his horns glisten like eye teeth.
Calasso says he’s gentle like a puppy.
You’re by the shore.
You’re with your friends.
You’re always with your friends.
This is the break we all make.
You want to leave your friends,
but you’ll always look back.
His breath is full of clover.
You notice the hard shell of his hoof
and if you’re really paying attention
the shimmer of his haunches—the muscle.
But you’re not.
You’re texting or rooting around in your basket
and he’s talking to you
which is weird for a bull.
And it seems like everyone (your friends and the other bulls)
are watching but from really far away.
You look into the ocean.
It’s blue enough to mimic the sky.
You get on.
You realize he’s huge.
You look back, but it’s way too late.
You’re in the middle of the ocean now.
They’re gone and you’ve started a new life.
You now live on the continent of after-the-fact,
of long ago, of I did it and it kind of hurt.
Carley Moore’s poetry has been published in Coconut, Conduit, Fence, La Petite Zine, and LIT. She teaches writing in the Liberal Studies Program at New York University and lives with her husband and daughter in Brooklyn, New York. Her first young adult novel, The Stalker Chronicles, is forthcoming from Farrar, Straus, and Giroux.
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