The Book of v

— Dara Elerath

Begin on page 49—
find the photograph of female anatomy.
The part that looks like a cut orchid
is a self-enclosed organ.
This is all you need to know.
Seven years elapsed before I was touched
even once, and then it was a stranger
who dropped an envelope in my open lap.
Did I mention his fingers were slick
with Vaseline and I could not bear to look?
His lips were dry and did not carry the scent
of vanilla or Valencia oranges,
did not make any part of my body shake.

There are virtually one-hundred-and-one places
to be caressed, but somewhere
between the vertices of the breasts
and collarbones is best (so it says).
Here, I would be remiss
if I did not mention
the virulent strains of kissing disease
featured on page 53.

Tonight, the dress I wore
was viridian (this might have been
the color of his eyes, had I looked).
There are several versions of the story,
but in the one he told me
Thecla followed Paul to heaven
by never opening her legs;
the only word she wanted
was vessel—a porcelain cup rubbed
with white linen.

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