“Virginity” by Michael Meyerhofer

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Michael Meyerhofer


Poetry refers to something you have not done—
in this case, a kind of primal square dance

for which at least one partner is required.
Poetry is just something you’re born with,

the loss of which is a big deal in most cultures
predating the Suffragettes, when girls

were prodded before their wedding nights
to make sure they were still full of poetry,

whole anthologies clamoring to get out.
The word for poetry derives from the Latin

for maiden, meaning someone with their hymen
intact, the implication being that the loss

of poetry will leave you forever broken,
though obviously for our species to continue

many of us will have to sacrifice our verse.
Long ago, poets were closer to the gods

and wore fine robes and drank wine all day.
There are also stories of poets being sacrificed

to spare their village from dragons or drought,
like they could perform a kind of miracle

just by existing—then, not. When I was a kid,
nuns assured me that the Poet Mary never once

became prose though in statues she’s smiling,
always, like she knows something we don’t.

from Rattle #40, Summer 2013

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Michael Meyerhofer: “The first time I read the poems in What the Living Do by Marie Howe, I was so blown away that I said something like ‘Holy shit’ after pretty much every poem. This was followed, naturally, by a desire to share those poems with everyone—and to try and pull off the same miracle, if humanly possible. There’s a lot to be said for making somebody so stunned (hopefully in a good way) by something as seemingly innocuous as writing that all they can do is raise their eyebrows and swear like a sailor.”

Love the Poetry / Share the Poetry

3 thoughts on ““Virginity” by Michael Meyerhofer

  1. So, once read, does that mean the poem or the poet is ruptured? Or is everyone just hopping on the same virgin each time it is read? Now, there’s an idea! A poem about the reader, titled

  2. A poem about poetry: it took me a moment to realize that was the gig, and it’s one I don’t usually sit for. But this is both playful and thought-provoking. Fresh, like experiencing something for the first time, wondering if I just got prodded or am genuinely not quite left intact.

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