that if I wanted to marry a Christian man
then I would need to be a virgin.
Because he wouldn’t appreciate
a woman that had been tampered with too tough.
Imagine, she said
if you took a new Mercedes,
ran it through every station in the neighbourhood:
BP, Shell, Esso, Texaco
and shoved greasy nozzles into it
for days and days on end
filling her up with diesel and unleaded and leaded and diesel again—
mixing the three into a poisonous concoction
that would inevitably cause her to choke and decay and catch disease.
Before you know it, said Mother, Mercedes would be left in the garage
to grow old alone. And dusty. Her paint would peel and her shine would vanish.
And no one would care.
Do you want to be like that? Asked Mother.
No. I said. I didn’t.