Lauren Bender


oh friend, I’m sure you would not have hesitated
in the hallway like I did

when a boy wanted to kiss me, because kissing
after a while

becomes like learning to walk, where you don’t
think too much

about it, there is simply a table or chair or
other piece of furniture

you use to pull yourself to your legs at last,
feels like forever

you have been waiting for those steps, then
another forever

for the softness of someone else’s lips
on yours, nervous, at the door

as you’re saying goodbye, this was nice, thank you
for the bear, I’ll see you

at school tomorrow? but then there was only
my palm lifting

in what was meant to be a wave but I knew
was also, secretly, stop,

this is not right, this is not right,
and him waving back

as if he was not thinking of every girl
in our class who had graduated

from not kissing to kissing to hand jobs
long ago, of, dear lord,

someone easier, and me telling myself
when it’s right, I’ll know,

right? when it’s the right time, I’ll
…just know? because

it had to be that I was not ready,
this the only explanation

I could offer myself, one year before
the lips of my best friend

as she lay beside me on the bed became
all I could think about, and

never once am I ready for this step, but
oh god, how much longer? now?


Lauren Bender lives in Burlington, VT. Her work has appeared in IDK Magazine, The Collapsar, Gyroscope Review, Pittsburgh Poetry Review, Yes Poetry, and others. You can find her on twitter @benderpoet.