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.
Kara van de Graaf is a poet, teacher, and editor living in Salt Lake City, UT. Her first book, Spitting Image, won the 2016 Crab Orchard First Book Prize and is forthcoming from SIU Press. She is co-founder and editor of Lightbox Poetry, an online educational resource for poetry in the classroom, at www.lightboxpoetry.com. She is an Assistant Professor of English and Creative Writing at Utah Valley University.