the things we learn we can’t talk about.
I was in seventh grade
when I first wondered about this word,
a word that even then,
I knew was taboo.
Before the meaning was clear
I knew I wasn’t allowed to seek an explanation
from the science teacher
or my parents or my pastor,
so I whispered the question
to a gathering of friends, both boys and girls,
some giggling, some dumbfounded,
but I went home with an answer
burning in my body—
that pleasure I’d already discovered
now had a name.
How unfair and unfortunate this private
satisfying act couldn’t be glorified—
that its meaning has always been synonymous
with dirty, forbidden, bad—
as if desire was something foreign
to those of us without a partner to lay us down.
But self-denial isn’t a virtue
doesn’t extinguish the fires
that begin to kindle before you ever take a lover—
and rage on, long after your lover is gone.
“Day Dream” Andrew Wyeth, 1980