Hymen By Noelle McManus


“It’s going to hurt,” she told me,
“and we’re going to bleed.”
Such was the burden saddled upon us.
Boys looked her way and she looked away
and the blinds were always too thin.
She rose, stumbling, from the water with an arm
shielding both her breasts, crying
my name.
As if there was anything I could do about it.

It’s been a long time
since I turned in that direction,
since I lay awake with her to pose questions
about their bodies and the hair on their stomachs
and how long we had to wait for them to spill.
Fear planted itself on us
like the barnacles sucking on the dock,
a slit
in the gaping maw I knew inside me.
Our teachers told us to pray a Hail Mary
if we went too far.
“Don’t let him go in,” they said.
“Don’t ever let him go in.”
Some nights I would undress and face myself in the mirror
and imagine Mary walking in my skin.

She’s happy now,
hangs off the arm of a good Catholic boy with tanned skin
and short, fat fingers.
I want to ask her,
does it hurt you?
She stumbles from the water, thighs
split open
by the edge of the boat,
and he barks a laugh out at her.
I want to ask her,
does he lay you down like a bride?
does he make you bleed?
Some nights Mary crawls into bed beside me
and says she knows I want it.

By Noelle McManus


Noelle McManus is a twenty-year-old writer from Long Island, New York who studies linguistics, Spanish, and German. Her work has been published in The Women’s Review of Books and UMass Amherst’s Jabberwocky.

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