The kind you’re born with, the kind you choose, the kind that teach Catholic school
Subscribe and Save up to 55%
Her vulva is innocent not shy
The skin arcs between her small thighs
soft, hairless, cleaved like the peach,
two lines of slow curve vanishing in her hips, in her belly,
in her — we cannot call them — breasts.
She will ask nothing of her vulva for years.
She will call it her thing and cover it daily.
She will wash it in warm water,
pinching it, wiping it
will rub the soap there
until it is clean.
Somewhere else now, he is being changed,
his penis pointing to the sky and peeing with great force,
urine spraying his mother’s hands and his mother’s pant legs,
drenching the huge red sac of his newborn scrotum.
He will come inside her one day,
his hands gripping her shoulder blades
both glad there is no way back.
And when he pulls out of her,
when he draws his stream of white syllables across these thighs,
she will sing some song
with the shapes of his eyes and mouth
and sing that song
through the difficult corridors
of her sleep.
I was having a late lunch in the Snack Shack near my bookbindery, and reading my then-current copy of The Sun [Issue 182].
I was alone until an elderly woman came in, ordered a cup of coffee and a Rice Krispies bar, and sat at a table opposite me.
I continued to read, though I noticed she was looking in my direction and squinting. Soon, she was staring. I raised the folded magazine to block her view of my face.
She suddenly crammed the last of the bar into her mouth and gulped her coffee, then struggled into her coat, and left — no, she fled! I finished Rob Eaton’s fine article, “Three Women,” and flipped over the magazine to read the next piece just as the woman burst out the door.
This was when I discovered the poem by Joel Long, with its large title: “Her Vulva.”
I was alone once more with The Sun.
For the PDF of the page spread mentioned above click here (see print page numbers 34–35).