First Shower Ever on the Niagara Falls Church Trip

by Jessica Cuello

At eight I felt a caress / from the diary with the metal clasp 
The conch shell whispered in my ear / I touched the hard pink flesh

I kissed paper / stroked my own hair / passed my hands against 
the wall back and forth / Wall like cloth / cloth like skin to touch

I kissed it / My first shower was on the trip to the falls / We leaned 
close to peer in the cavern of Death / a mist that touched the neck

I peeled the paper from the tiny motel soap / The water only came 
out cold / So this was a shower / water pressure touching skin

The other girls left me on the trail /  slow animal / I did not 
push back / The held are brazen and the touchless cowards


Jessica Cuello is the author of Liar, selected by Dorianne Laux for the 2020 Barrow Street Book Prize and forthcoming in 2021. She is also the author of Hunt (The Word Works, 2017) and Pricking (Tiger Bark Press, 2016). She has been awarded The 2017 CNY Book Award, The 2016 Washington Prize, The New Letters Poetry Prize, a Saltonstall Fellowship, and The New Ohio Review Poetry Prize. She is a poetry editor at Tahoma Literary Review. Read more of Jessica’s work at