I knew a girl once,
small and fair.

Face like a doll,
with sugar for hair.

She was tidy and sweet.
She was an ‘object of desire,’
a sacred thing.
A fetish in flesh.

‘What do men want?’

The same thing as women.

Pretty words blur the truth,
obscure it beneath these opaline waves.

She was a songbird.
All virgins are,
but who cares for purity besides the impure?
Her mother, sequestered, was once so wise.

‘My sweet child,’ she would say.

No words protect better than locks
on doors, in castles fortified,
and palaces walled in bone.

There is no jewel brighter than a man’s tears;
the rarest stone a woman can wear.

‘Make him bleed. Bring him on his knees.’

The words slither past her teeth,
crack his slim hands,
and put out his eyes.

His eyes!
Lanterns extinguished.
It was unholy but sacred.
A crime of passion.

No worse, some say,
than lifting lace from nubile legs.

Besides, there are worse fates
beneath roots and inside walls,
but these things go unwritten.