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Virginity

Read by T.R. Hummer

I knew it made me prized, helpless; that losing it
would make me bleed. Because the desires of boys
angered my father, so did I — though desire 

seemed unconnected to the way they would, in a pack,
stand in a driveway and call out invitations. 

If I could pass and seem unshaken, 
they would shout at my back, You bitch! 

This long afternoon on the mountain in Winslow
Ellen and I drink tea, look out her back window,
and wait for a purebred colt to be born. 

The Arabian mare has lost her mucus plug, 
and there will be no other sign: prey animals 
have their babies fast, to walk away before the blood 
attracts a predator. 
                              I could not have known 
my father wanted to deliver me unharmed;

I would not have trusted anyone to see 

that something growing inside me wanted out,
wanted to be shaking and raw, wet and new.
Katrina Vandenberg is the author of two books of poems, The Alphabet Not Unlike the World (expected June 2012) and Atlas (2004), both published by Milkweed Editions. She has received fellowships from the Fulbright, Bush, and McKnight foundations, and has been a resident at the MacDowell Colony and the Amy Clampitt House in Lenox, Massachusetts. She lives with her husband, novelist John Reimringer, in Saint Paul, Minnesota. She teaches at Hamline University.