Abstinence by Kelly Weber

                                                          I am one of the good girls.
Boys come back to school with new rodeo buckles
                                                          and like any good girl I admire the hips
circled in the silver hooves of bucking broncos.
                                                          I bleed discretely. I cry properly
when a girl drowns in the dam’s lake. The boys winch a doe
                                                          out of the water and gut it, read the pink coil
of viscera and plastic for a hint
                                                          of how many throats they’ll conquer.
Mothers tell us we need to resist temptation
                                                          and I wonder which temptation they mean,
what allure a jawline holds for me.
                                                          Boys flick paper footballs at my face
to see it hit with white
                                                          and I keep sewing a needle through my palm.
Like the moth I am mistaken for helpless
                                                          and like the moth I orient by the light by another gravity.
Sometimes boys drive out to fields to shoot
                                                          something living. I have no word for aroace.
In the kitchen I’m waiting at the door
                                                          of the fathers’ laughter swelling sky.
My mother gave me a scorpion sealed under glass.
                                                          Something to teach me about learning to contain
what is dangerous.
                                                          I press my palms to the window, following
another storm blowing in: Durango,
                                                          Telluride, Rifle, Creede, every name I give
to knobs of my body. Everyone tethers their thrashing
                                                          to each other’s honey-dark pupils.
Mothers use us as warning. Point to bare shoulders,
                                                          drag us again before the altar.
Try not to be seen.
                                                          Trust no one, even friends, who may betray
me to men. When boys ask in class
                                                          if I want to hold hairy balls in my mouth, I bow my head
until they can’t help but admire me.
                                                          The worst thing possible does not happen to me.
I’m a good girl. I drive a nail into the wall
                                                          for each bit of iron I’ve distilled from blood
threaded from my fingers. People think it’s a cross
                                                          but it’s my spine I’ve tacked above the bed.
I resist eating a single seed of that red pomegranate
                                                          of my furious heart, or I might just throw over hell
and clasp his bone crown to name myself queen.
                                                          I leave the window open too long at night.
Winter rain cinches my navel silver.
Kelly Weber is the author of the chapbook The Dodo Heart Museum: A Fabulist Curiosity Cabinet (Dancing Girl Press, 2020), and her work has appeared or is forthcoming in DIAGRAM, Cream City Review, Permafrost, Ruminate, Timber, Fourth River, and elsewhere. She has been a finalist for the Frontier Chapbook Prize and Two Sylvias Chapbook Prize and has been longlisted for the [PANK] Book Contest, and her work has received Pushcart nominations. She has received professional support from the Bread Loaf Environmental Writers’ Conference workshop and served as an editorial assistant for Colorado Review. She holds an MFA from Colorado State University. More of her work can be found at kellymweber.com.