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Harder: A poem by Mallory Pendleton

Harder: A poem by Mallory Pendleton


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My first dick was all pen and ink. My mother sitting at our kitchen table   explaining sex, or more so, my sex, or more so, the way that my sex worked. My mother trying to answer     a question. My mind   thinking  longand hard  about the two men across the street who were oldand together  and loved to sit on their porch  and didn’t seem  to be going   anywhere, didn’t seem to be         parting anytime soon, didn’t seem to be   leaving each other,            didn’t seem to need    anyone else,   any women.I understood it. Didn’t feel I needed it              explained,        but felt this might be the timeto ask about sex.                     Something about them said    sex. Said ask, now     is as good a time        as any. So Mama         at our kitchen  table in August        and my chin restingon top of          the soft           damp      wood             and her hand sketchinga dick   in pen    on the back of tomorrow’s grocery list.  I recount this experience to you    the other night. You ask me                      about my first time   and this is how I choose to answer                   instead of telling you   about the time     I was                            undressed        on   that same      kitchen table          eight or so years      later          I guess          but I tell you this instead      and      laugh               as I remember understandingthe facts                      how it worked              —the whole thing—within just a few minutes of     my mother beginning, but pretending not to understand.              Drilling question       after question                into        my mother                 one   after         the other                     waitingfor       her voice  to                 crack   a  little   more in everytruth.  Sadistic little daughter.               I just      wanted           something      more    than                         an explanation             like                                           my mother’s mouthto wrap                                    around                         the wordspenis,     vagina,          erection,          sperm,   orgasm,        orgasm,                         orgasm orgasm. I’d heard them                                               before and they had made mefeel      alive and                      I wanted her                to feel                         alive   too                     I wanted her to                            give the words                         over                             to me without apology                                                             to begin to shake less                   to hold the pen steady                            to take                                              nothing                                                backI wanted                                  to set Mommy free.  I laugh telling you this.            silly memory :: naive daughter :: wishful girl                              we see   nothing                 in our wake I leave the bedroom once a night. Every time you sit up and ask whether I am okay or where I am going before I only nod my head, shut the door, and leave. The first time I realized            I was not a woman      was also the first timeI wanted          to just lay   on the ground    out of view        and     become dirty            and    become          dirtier. I ask my mother          about sex and     her medication    because I need opinions and the doses of each        seem inextricable  from                  one                       another today I try to believe but nothing               I imagine us wide open and fearless butnothing there                           is no documenting womanhood       without cutting the body                in halfto count each widening ring                 between cunt and tongue       orhow many times                     we had to grow upand stretch the blood’s dried up                                                     the doctors say noblood    no sex no             love      or feeling    no and whymake a fuss just         pull on your pants and      feel           how easythey come       up your hips      now          that you’ve lost           the shining curveof want inside we can all become    such beautiful enhancements of death      if we need to            unmoving                    save the smile                                     the hands and each morning a hurt   the end of my body   both fists pressed into the soft living room floor and this is your home                     this has always been your home     there is no leaving just the hurtwhich is different than the blood          which is missing                     which is the missing which is             different                     than the leavingjust the hurt                                                     which is my constantMama  still       flinching           at the kitchen table      her     staggered     throat    still        holding    on    to                        this          was              never           going            to        be         pretty how could I do         anything                but laughwe are    silent   breakable         thingsuntil our chins   slide              off        the          wooden                    edgeand boom and     what   thenbut        you asking    for                 my firstdick      and      feeling               powerfulas        I                       return to you the          paper-thin one           sitting   in                     my mother’sflickering                      hand instead of meshakinginstead of my shakingshaking instead of me

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