Tianna G. Hansen: Cherry Consent
Photo: Joanna C. Valente

Photo: Joanna C. Valente

cherry consent

you’ll always remember the first time you gave a man permission to touch you. he was a boy back then, both no more than 15 – your first boyfriend who you dated for most of high school

before you broke his heart.

before your breakdown.

but that’s a different story. this story is one of lust, of innocence, of what you believed then to be the deepest love – to this day still one of the strongest; your first love. you’ll never forget your first. you’ll never forget a final love either, or all the ones in between, but

it’s the first love that’s poignant,

full of the taste of discovery,

of passion, of longing.

the taste of his skin, the heat of it, when you joined his family for a day at the beach one summer and a child giggled watching you kiss.

the feeling of the salty waves,

the ocean buoying you

almost as much as the

lingering feeling of his eyes

on you, always.

the taste of his lips, when you sat together on a stonewall next to a pond and you had something you wanted – a first kiss – but you were too afraid and you had stolen one of your best friend’s boyfriends but he was your best friend too and she told you she didn’t love him and you used to pass crinkled paper notes to him during all your classes together and even before he was yours, you always wanted him. that day, when you couldn’t work up the courage, he kissed you. his lips were soft.

you knew then,

with that first touch,

how much you would grow

to love him, and how much he

would grow to love you.

like a symphony or a drum solo; he who introduced you to rock n’ roll, who gave you the experience of good music thrumming through your bones and made you mixed CDs (you stopped listening to music after you broke his heart; that’s when you realize you broke your own heart, too); the first time you allow him to touch you, your heart won’t stop racing, creating its own electric volts. thumping so fast, blood quick through veins and all you can think is you want him.

like giving him a gift:

your body, untouched.

unscathed, unscarred

back then. pristine

and pure, so

head over heels

like nothing would

ever go wrong.

that first time you give consent, you are in a park together and it starts pouring in brief torrential downpours of rain leaving you both soaked through your clothes and wet hair stuck to your face and the two of you race from gazebo to gazebo, stopping to indulge in each other,

his hands holding your face

and your fingers laced

through his hair, lip-locked

beneath the gazebo.

you are so eager

yet so hesitant.

the rain finally lets up and you walk together down a path through the woods to a secluded bench in the bushes. you sit in his lap so you can continue kissing each other, you feel the bulge of him against your panties,

the heat of him burning through you

and you both buzzing, supercharged

like live wires together.

you lean in and whisper in his ear, delicate breath tickling his neck: i want you to touch me and he knows what you mean even before you slip his fingers beneath the hem of your skirt. strangers keep walking by even on that rain-drenched day so you promise each other, make a pact, it will happen later.

back at his parents’ house, on the floor

of his childhood bedroom in the corner

where nobody can see and the

large window that used to be a door

looking out on a budding tree and

this is the first time,

you feel his hand slip inside the top of your skirt and you want him to, his lips wrapped in yours as he slips one long, calloused finger inside you,

guitarist hands that he uses

to serenade you with handwritten

chords and one day will

write a song for you

and you feel what you never dreamed. a bubble rises in your throat, low moan that disappears inside his mouth. on that floor, many days after this first day, you’ll lose your virginity though it’s not in the way you thought it would be and one day those beautiful guitarist hands, the hands that hold yours and you for nearly three years, fingers that dry your tears and hands that caress you and make you feel whole, hands that continue trying to reach you years after you break his heart but you can’t allow them to pull you back, you can’t –

those hands you used to

know by heart, every line,

every groove, every callous

– his hands come away one day bright red with new blood and you have an ache in your womb between your legs and you apologize but you aren’t on your period and you won’t know what it is until years later, looking back and repeating that word you’ve just learned


and by then, there’s a deep relief in your bones when you remember

his gentle fingers

coming away cherry-red

and dripping with you

– when you know for certain it was someone who loved you who took your virginity, instead.


instead of what you’ve believed

all these years.

Tianna G. Hansen has been writing her whole life. Her debut poetry collection Undone, Still Whole (APEP, May 2019) focuses on the aftermath of trauma, finding a wholeness in yourself after feeling broken. She also has a dark fantasy poetic opera collaboration with Kristin Garth and Justin Karcher, A Victorian Dollhousing Ceremony (Rhythm & Bones Press, June 2019) and is the founder and editor-in-chief of Rhythm & Bones Press. Find more of her work at CreativeTianna.com or follower her on IG: @tgghansen24 / FB: @tiannaghansen / TW: @tiannag92.