When things are bad I think shitdamn, finally something to write about.
My body has never belonged to me. It was my mother’s, captive under her rib cage. It belonged to my parents, bodies staking claims to my features. It belonged to porn and fantasy, took its only pleasure in a world from what I could imagine in the quiet of my basement bedroom, to the first boy who ran his fingers across my stomach -- then nothing more -- to men who pushed my legs behind my head to fuck in a way that can’t be called making love. I’ve been told nothing can be done, to curl my lips into a pleasure-mask that is -- occasionally -- a portrait of my face and not a sarcophagus.
Sometimes I wonder what strange men think of the way I look without makeup, my crooked front teeth, the fact that I don’t smoke, if they would accept that I don't know anything despite the absolutes given across clasped hands.
And sometimes, alright, most days on the bus I wonder who’s already been fucked and who’s tried it in the ass and who, if anyone, could love me.
Prayer to the Goddesses
Mother, I think of you every time
I order a beer so dark I can’t see myself
in the womb of the glass.
Beverly, great grandmother, when I catch eyes
with my own and hold them,
I wonder if I inherited your wildness.
I see you, women who made me woman
sitting side by side behind my eyes
on the front steps
like the photograph of all of us together,
and we are all young and smiling
because we could still imagine
what was coming without fear.
I see you reaching toward me:
open-mouthed statues of Athena
at the Forum Romana.
I didn’t understand her, either. Or
couldn’t hear. Mother, mother
of my mother, and her mother,
tell me what it means to be a woman
who, if still afraid of her body,
can at least picture the possibilities it holds
with the clarity you had when I was born
and you tried to wish my future into being.
(read: another excuse for not having sex)
I have nearly circumcised myself
trying to shave the long hairs
in my labia for you. Meaning
we won't have sex tonight (again)
unless you'd like to rip my skin
open, birth blood
with each thrust.
No matter how long it's been
you always start the clock at 3 weeks.
Should I be offended
that you forget?
I don’t think of you
when I masturbate any more.
It is cheating if I don’t think of anyone?
If sex feels like hunger
when nothing tastes good?
When it’s over
I feel I took care of something
Important, but that doesn’t mean
I like the taste left in my mouth.
And it’s not you.
It’s not your body.
Some nights you get drunk and ask
if I’m asexual. How do I explain
I feel I sliced my pleasure away
with a razor when you say
take pleasure the way some say
take heart and mean it gets better or
wait. I surprise you every time
I reply it’s been too long already.
Chloe Hanson is a Ph.D. candidate in Knoxville, TN. Her work has appeared in Public Pool, The Heartland Review, Contemporary Verse 2, Pretty Owl, and various other journals online and in print.