When I am asked what I most want to be
when I grow up, I think about sex education:
to my fourteen year old body hauling itself
to the cafeteria, where Mister Jacobs takes
the girls and plays film stills of mutts
devouring meat outside a butcher’s.
In the next room, the boys are handed
condoms from Miss Miller, told they are
Gods if they want to be.
In front of the projections, I imagine
being dressed like butcher’s meat,
by big hands taking care, not minding
all the blood, while Mister Jacobs’ voice
says dogs will gnaw till there
is nothing left but pearled-white bone.
I want to give myself over in this way:
till I am licked clean as the leftovers—
but I know the day I learn those lessons,
I’ll return home with blood and dirt stains
on my dress, with scrape and sweat,
with my lips cracked — and I will laugh
about it if my mother dares to ask.
‘I actually wrote this poem after a one-on-one with Katy Evans-Bush, where she told me she wanted to see my poetry head in a bit more personal/looser direction, so I decided to experiment with this younger, confessional voice. This poem was also shaped by some reading I was doing about America’s Bible Belt at the time, because I find some of the otherworldliness of their views so fascinating. I wanted to try to explore to psychological effects such biased, negative, and simply incorrect information about sexuality could have on someone young and coming to terms with puberty, and the grotesqueness and morbidity of it all.’
Sarah Fletcher is a young British-American poet. In 2012, she was a Foyle Young Poet, and in 2012 and 2013, won the Christopher Tower Poetry Prize. She has been published in The Rialto, The London Magazine, The Morning Star, Ink Sweat & Tears, and had her work commended in The Bridport Prize and the Stephen Spender Prize. Her work has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and displayed at Olympic Park. Her pamphlet Kissing Angles on Dead Ink will be published this year.