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“Sapphic Fragment”

        Do I still long for my virginity?
        —
Fragment 107

I never longed for my virginity.
I heard it on the radio after the hurricane.

 

There, in the aftermath, was the voice of a man —
once the sweet, screwed-up boy whose hooded,

 

jessed spirit I tried to possess with the ruthlessness
I mistook for power. Here he was on NPR,

 

so gentle, so familiar with devastation,
his timbre woke the teenage falconer in me

 

who once saw his kindness as weakness,
saw a boy as an unfledged goshawk —

 

a creature to trap and be trapped with
in darkened mews. I knew the rules:

 

neither of us could sleep until the molting bird
grew ravenous enough to take the raw mouse

 

from my hand. Breaking the falcon
broke us both, left us scared

 

and less aware of love than fear.

 

—Poetry, February 2013

Eliza Griswold is a poet and reporter whose work has appeared in the New Yorker, the Atlantic, the New York Times Magazine, Harper’s, and the New Republic. Her books include the poetry collection Wideawake Field (2007) and the non-fiction title The Tenth Parallel (2010), which examines Christianity and Islam in Asia and Africa.

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