Knotholes

We said we would wait for God
before we did anything.
We ate our meals with a third seat between us
vacant, so He could sit and observe
our pure conversations
stilted devotional rhetoric
church banter
musings of creation;
amongst the blades of glass on the table
filled with apple juice
that cast chlorophyllic shadows
across the white table cloth
and reflected on the silvery pools of knives and forks
which glimmered in blank response.

You used to telephone me in the morning
so we could pray together;
at night for Bible study.
Visits round mine consisted of sitting by the coffee table
Bible open,
and our bottomless eyes staring at newsprint
becoming entranced in the thees the thys the thous the therefores
It seeped through in your prayers, this language
to take me back to a buried age–
your words fell upon me till I was foetal and surrounded
hands tied together, noose around my neck, shackles on.
Men calling–

WITCH

–to my face.

Our Bible was imperative to our meetings,
the paper thin, like the skin of a cocoon
fragile, wings of a moth
pure, like doilies on wedding tables
family, friends and anonymouses crowding around us
as we dance, Bible confetti snowing down on our heads
Bible petals falling on a consummation bed
dotted red with consummation blood
red turning to auburn, auburn to chestnut
the wild of me as we interlock, hidden in knotholes in the forest
and back again, to meet the disappointment
of cyclical blood: burnt umber,
the ashes of my hope swirls like dust unearthed
from a rug.

Trivial things of married couples
arguments, torn wedding dresses
reconciliations in bathtubs
counting down menstrual days like prophecy
until you can try again.

You and I failed to get there.
I remember staring at the ceiling
as it swam in my wetted eyes
and feeling forbidden blood oozing down my legs.
We were still young
and illegitimate.
Our Bible open above us but cold and foreboding
every swirl of the letter was like a dismayed Eye.
We were on the floor, by the coffee table. Behind us,
was the vacant chair
where God should have been.

The Value of a Female Virgin

I used to be really proud to be a virgin, and most of the time I’m happy that I’m yet to succumb to external pressures, whether it be kissing, touching or other sexual things. I never really questioned why I felt proud, or why I, as a woman, was made to feel as though it was something I should wear like a badge of honour.

I still think it’s a good thing to save yourself for someone special and to make the commitment to only ever be with that person; to be in a courtship and exercise the art of self-control; to keep promises. But the double standard in our churches in regards to male/female virginity has really started to grate on me. Always, a woman’s virginity is valued more than a man’s. Society in general has an issue with female sexuality, hence the slut-shaming that women face when they admit to liking sex, and the appraisal men receive upon acting in the same way. But the church has this thing of thinking women are “precious” and “sacred” and it’s more damaging than men will understand.

If we were to look at countries where war rape is rife, we would see that it’s not just the rapists that are at fault, but the men in the victimised communities as well. These communities place such a value on women’s sexuality, branding them as “their women”, that when the rape takes place it not only shatters their morale but bruises their manhood: another man has tampered with their goods. And in this battle of the egos, the woman becomes collateral damage. In this same way, by owning the sex lives women in church, the church brothers leave them open to attack from people from outside; profane men who are craving the appeal of a virgin, and would like nothing more than to “show her a few things”.

This is also detrimental to our young men. When sexual purity is taught in church, if it’s implied that a woman’s virginity is more important, we’re going to implant a warped view of sex to the men.

I’ve been thinking about these things a lot lately, mainly because I’m starting to see women my age feel doubly guilty when they do “impure” things. This battle to be the Ultimate Proverbs 31 Woman, to be strong even when we ourselves are struggling with our own lusts and sexual sins. The thought hit me this  week because there has been a bit of talk recently about the church men going through hell during summer when most women begin to dress in less clothing than they usually would. I’ve been talking to a few female friends about this issue and none of them can actually understand what the big deal is; women have always had to repress their sexual feelings because they’ve always had to be more chaste than men. So we either struggle in secret or don’t struggle at all. It makes me wonder whether these viewpoints further establish the notion that a woman’s body is a bad thing. A weapon that has been the downfall of men and it needs to be kept in check. This may be one of the reasons why people are more concerned when a woman loses her virginity; she used her sinful body to lure a man into a trap.

Who knows? I’m sure there are many reasons why this viewpoint exists. But I’m weary of letting people know I haven’t done anything before. It may attract the wrong crowd.

Dentata

I was hidden.
Under reams and realms of sand.
Hidden.
So that it took a voyage of frustration
to find and open me

They opened me.
Dug black nails into the wood.
Rowan. Sturdy and sure
but soon bewildered with
lines of hate and scratches
that defaced my grace.

Muscles contracted over the lock
that had been given to me by God
and set in wait until that same One
gave me the right key to open it.

Strength comes in desperation, so
anvils, snares; hooks and chains
fall like feathers of a dying bird
in the hands of a starving treasure thief.

Now I’m unbolted
spread wide. With my lock broken and bleeding.
And when I close myself a second time
I won’t open again.

The Virgin

Mother said
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.