sonnets for an old century

The afterlife could be represented by a tunnel, a cave, a warehouse, an airplane hangar, catacombs or a seedy office building with ugly fluorescent lighting–but it’s a large space.

The recently deceased people who appear in the space are from various parts of the U.S. There are Latinos, blacks, Asians, whites. There are gays and straights, children and old people. All are strangers to each other. Wendy Johnson speaks to them.
—  Sonnets for an Old Century, by José Rivera
The first time someone else’s tongue enters your mouth.
The first time a child trusts you to carry them to the next room.
The first time you drive safely from Boston to San Diego with someone you’re in love with.
The first time you watch birth.
The first time your loved one apologizes for breaking your heart.
The first hummingbird.
The first day of college …
The first time you get the dog to shit outside.
The first lease you sign.
The first non-degrading paycheck.
The first time you can read “I love you” in a lover’s eyes.
The first time you sleep in after fucking all night long.
The first family reunion without homicidal fantasies.
The first love letter.
The first serious talk about love with your child.
The first time you contemplate suicide and change your mind.
The first hangover.
The first arrest.
The first acquittal.
The first epiphany.
The first time you hear Lorca in Spanish.
The first real friendship with a person of another race …
The first visible comet.
The first time you feel attractive.
The first time you’re called “angel.”
The first experience with something remotely like a God.
The first recovery after a serious illness.
The first time you meet a hero.
The first beer with your father.
The first time therapy makes sense …
The first birthday of your first born.
The first time you can’t walk and your lover carries you to the next room.
The first foul ball you catch in Fenway Park.
The first time you stand alone and you’re scared to death and you don’t change your position.
The first time you’re convinced of your mortality and you laugh.
The first sunrise after the first death of a parent.
The first time you forgive the unforgivable.
The first time you see the earth from space.
The first time you decide that every moment of your life should be a work of art.
The first time it is truly obvious that it was better that you lived, at this time, in this world.
The first time you die and you breathe again and you speak to the living.
The first time you realize that it all just might have been okay.
—  Sonnets for an Old Century by José Rivera