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I'm Trying to Write a Poem about a Virgin and It's Awful

She was very unhappy and vaguely religious so I put her
at the edge of the lake where the ducks were waddling
along like Victorian children, living out their lives in
blithe, downy softness. She hated her idleness. I loved
her resilience. Her ability to turn her gaze on small
versions of herself seemed important. The lake wasn't
really a lake. It was a state of mind where words like
ochre, darken, and false were supposed to describe her
at her best and worst, but they were only shadows and
everyone knows the best shadows always look like
the worst kinds of men. She wanted them badly, so I
took her for a swim. In the lake that was not a lake,
her twenty-five-year-old body felt the joy of being bare
and naive among the seaweed and tiny neon fish, but I
didn't believe her. And I couldn't think of anything to
say in her defense. Some people said I should take her
out of the poem. Other people said no, take her out of
the lake and put her in a bedroom where one man is
saying, I can't help you, and another is saying, You waited
too long
. The men sounded like cynical seabirds. When
they said Virgin, they meant Version we've left behind.
I didn't trust them. So I took her to the rush of the sea.
She waded in and waved at me. I turned away. It wasn't
her fault. She wasn't the shell I was after.

Analicia Sotelo


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