Virginia Chase Sutton
My chapbook, Down River, was published last year. My second book, What Brings You to Del Amo, won the Samuel French Morse Poetry Prize, and is being reissued by Doubleback Books. Embellishments was my first book and Of a Transient Nature was my third. Seven times nominated for the Pushcart Prize, my poems have appeared in Paris Review, Ploughshares, Comstock Review, and Peacock Journal, among many other literary publicaiions, journals, and anthologies.
After one dreadful sexual experience,
both of us unsatisfied, after you shove
into my snatch, me wanting you out,
you calm on the quarter moon.
We agree to be just friends, never lovers again,
swearing on that beam of light. A couple
of weeks later, I go dancing with you, something
we are good at, our feet kicking magical moon drops
falling from the disco ball rotating overhead.
This is something two friends would do. But
I drink too much, tossing back gin and tonics
you feed me, dizzy and dull as rain. Glass after
glass. I blackout. At dawn, I stagger awake,
and you are naked beside me. I stare at a parade
of seven used condoms neatly lining the dresser.
I rise, wrap the sheet around my achy body
and puke. It all spills out---booze, you, the sex
I do not remember. You are still in my bed
when I return, laughing smugly. You were quiet
for the first time in your life, you say cooly,
your perfect body too close. Once I admired
your muscles, the way your flesh shifted
as you moved. No, I say and you laugh. What
kind of man pushes hard into my center,
manipulates my body while I am unconscious?
Time to go, you say, dress in an instant, your brown
leather jacket gleaming as you slither out the front door.
I blame myself for my drunkenness, the unknowing
of last night and now new day during an immediate
hot shower, tears and snot running down my face
until only cold water remains. I try to scrub you
away, the sun rising outside though I hide
from it, from friends. I say, too much drinking, too
much dancing in the circle of his arms. But I am
only guessing. I was passed out cold. A lesson
in self-loathing, my wet hair tucked behind
my ears so I might hear if you dared return. But you
do not, your revenge slaked. Years later a student
in my composition class gives an oral report on
date rape. As she talks, I am suddenly short
of breath, trembling, recalling your fingerprint
bruises on my body, the way the day rose,
as if it were any other day, as if nothing had
happened. Sick in my gut, shaking,
I abruptly dismiss the class, flip off the cruel
overhead light, place one burning
cheek against a cool desktop in the back
of the room. I see you, flames fanning
behind you, lighting the room, you
pointing again to used condoms,
so amused at my disbelief. They were
trophies, though I do not understand
why. Please call me something beautiful
to take back that night and morning---lily,
flower. But for you I am an unwilling vessel,
your handsome cock wrapped snugly in
my gorgeous vagina. Because of you
I learn never to trust the moon’s
bright gleam. How I remember vomiting
again and again, not knowing, years
of humiliation and shame ahead. Me
blaming me, violated in the most
basic of ugly ways. How you dare
to take me, curtains open, bed inviting,
me a lumpy sack, eyes glued shut. I woke
to your amusement and deep happiness.
Stop and take a breath. Turn my head
on the desk in the room where I have
control, responsibility. I now know what
you did, despite my best intentions.
Today outside the empty classroom,
I know the sun beats and steams.