Sex Education by Caroline Walton

At Marietta’s by Natalie Voelker

Sex Education

My father laughs when he tells the story
he says defines my and my sister’s personalities.
I’m six, she’s eight. There are two dogs
in our front yard. Aww look, they’re in love, I say.
My sister corrects me, No they’re not,
they’re just having sex.
It hadn’t occurred to me there was a difference.

My mother fumbles as she tries
to talk to me about sex. I have questions –
about masturbation, pregnancy, the blood
in my underwear. She sighs and says, finally,
Honestly, it’s not that great.

In school, we are separated by gender
to learn about sex. Shy, we look
at pictures of the reproductive organs.
This is a penis. This is a vagina. The penis
goes here. This is sex.
When rumors of two girls
getting too close follow them down the halls
while they walk each other to class, when they are found
kissing in the locker room,
their basketball coaches smirk
and say girls sometimes experiment.

We have borrowed each other’s bodies
for years. He calls, I stumble
out of the bar and into his bed.
The first time I said no, he coaxed
my virgin body open, a closed bud
he pushed to bloom between
his fingers. I cannot do this sober
without crying. He cannot comfort or make me
come. Once, I woke up in his arms
and my own urine. Once, he told me
he loved me – another accident
spilled across his bed.

I dream of kissing her long before
we ever do. In my dream we were taking turns,
push each other against a wall, pressing
hard. We match.
The reality is a rainy day, she walks me
to my car before asking if she could. My yes.
My please do.
Hard. Urgent. We smell of campfire and cold.
Her mouth is the summer
I’ve been waiting for my whole gray life.

Caroline Walton

Caroline Walton teaches high school English in Central Arkansas where she tries to convince teenagers that poetry is actually cool. She represented Arkansas at the 2013 Individual World Poetry Slam and placed second at the 2013 Arkansas Arts Center Ekphrastic Poetry Slam. Her work can be found in Germ Magazine and Words Dance.