lawrence-at-17
Young and Virgin at 17
by Kathleen A. Lawrence

At age 17, my
ardent, apple round

breasts bud, and
boastful, banal boys

came calling. I
coyly, coquettishly

danced away. But
drenched with desires,

eagerness to please, and
ecclesiastical enthusiasm.

Fading from fantasy, I
fell on femininity.

Godliness, and my
goodness were challenged.

Hype and hope for
heavenly bodies

I insinuated myself into
intimacy, insecure I was

jittery in jeans and quick to
justify I almost

keeled over. But I was
keen to kiss and

lazily he lingered on my mouth
leading me to his like, my love. I

moved without meaning, a
metronome, trying to make music.

Never touched nipples
needed attention.

Organically my omens opened
and overwhelmed I gave it up. Almost.

Protecting my prim Prom night, I
pushed away. I had briefly

quenched my
queen-ness, and

reckless with religion, I quickly
risked my reputation

slowly slipping into a fresh,
salty sisterhood.

Tumbling in time in the backseat,
tossing my tendrils, and

untethered now I was
urgent to unfurl.

Virginity and my Vatican II,
vanquished with a sigh, my

wisdom was wistful but
worried the nuns.

Exposing myself, they made an
example of me.

Young at 17, yesterday.
I yielded today. The

zippers zipped up and the
zealots still chastised. But

amazingly, I remained angelic.
Amen, to that.

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: Freckled and fancy free at 17, taken in Orlando, Florida.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: It was prom night, 1976, and I was still a virgin. But not for lack of trying. I was determined that it would be an extraordinary evening. I was ready to surrender the innocence of my youth and shed the strappings of my Catholicism. I attended an all-girls Catholic school, and the nuns were constantly reminding us of our sacred purity, and the boys that waited outside in the parking lot leaning on their Chevy Novas after school were convincing we’d be just as good in God’s eyes without it. The Sisters spent that balmy night in May, in the year of the bicentennial praying for our souls, as they stood around the punch table in the back. But there were just too many of us to save, too many eager to not be virgins anymore.

lawrence

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Kathleen A. Lawrence’s poems recently appeared in Rattle (Poets Respond), Crow Hollow 19, Altered Reality Magazine, two Prince memorial anthologies, haikuniverse, and Eye to the Telescope. She won third place in Short Form in the Science Fiction Poetry Association contest. Kathleen was Poet of the Week at Poetry Super Highway in January 2017. She teaches communication, popular culture, and women’s studies at SUNY Cortland.