portrait of my mother as the virgin queen
BY KARA VAN DE GRAAF
Above all, what I have feared is love.
I have been afraid of my body, of its weakness,
its need that feels like a pail filling slowly
with milk. I have watched kids at the teat,
how their mouths are formed to pull
every sweetness towards them, to suck
the body tired, the nipple raw and jewel-like.
Who would choose such a bitter ornament?
Who could understand a creature that gladly
admits anything that arrives at its gates?
I have put my hand to the soft stomach
of a doe, and I have heard her throat
bleating in the labor. I prefer to let the rod
do my speaking. I prefer to let them call my name.