One Poem by n.l. rivera

the first time we showered together

was before we’d even had sex, before we’d even seen each other naked and vulnerable, before i’d seen the deepset scar like a bite mark on his right shoulder, had caressed the divot with my thumb—a gift from u.s. immigration—but anyways we had just spent the last five hours in the emergency room and he kept apologizing for bringing me but i just sat there and wished there was a way to love away his hurt hurt hurt and when we got home after midnight we were covered in hospital and terror and uncertainty and relief so when he wordlessly handed me a newsoft towel i took it, and like i said it didn’t really matter that we still hadn’t even had sex, so we undressed each other for the first time and we let the water run over us, hot and stinging our brownskin red, and that whole time—that whole time my eyes didn’t even linger on any part of his naked body, all they could do was stare silently at the showerhead, or maybe heaven, and i prayed he didn’t think it was because i didn’t want to look at him, willed him to read my silence, hear me thanking someone that maybe was god or the universe or, shit, maybe even myself, just repeating ‘thank you for making him okay,’ over and over again, ‘i am so grateful that he’s okay.’ 


n.l. rivera (they/he) is a queer Latino writer living in New Jersey. Their work has appeared or is forthcoming in Bullshit Lit, Spare Parts Literary, Whale Road Review, The B’K, and elsewhere. One of these days he’ll develop a strong sense of identity, but in the meantime, they plan to keep writing poetry. Online, he lurks on Twitter @nl_riversss and Instagram @n.l.riversss.