The first time
contorted with the force
of the Stranger, and bled,
she was eleven years old.
The blood did not look
bright and fresh, the way she thought
that it ought to,
having come from such a young body.
It was almost black, a mud,
decomposed mosses and fossils,
all over her underwear, and she
was not ready.
Very pale she did not tell her mother.
Little Slav willed the Stranger to stay away,
and She did for three tenuous moonmonths.
rattling Her cruel
corset of bones, nodding at Little Slav
appraisingly and mouthing the word
"Breasts," and squeezing Little Slav's womb
with Her long white fingers again.
Little Slav climbed into the bathtub
The Stranger loves those screams.
They speak of Her generative magic
in Her only fluent language.
Little Slav screamed for her mama.
When she climbed out of the bathtub she fainted.
Mama toweled Little Slav off and gave her a blanket.
She showed Little Slav the contracting womb
by weaving her hands into a single fist and squeezing it.
Mama walked to the high cupboard, gave Little Slav
a big shot of slivovitz.
She told her not to think about it or smell it--
Just drink it, Little Slav.
When Little Slav drank it she fell into a dream.
In the dream there was not pain.
For a time she did not fear.
And when she woke up, the Stranger had
sunk into the tender of her bones,
stared out of her own eyes,
was caught dripping by a wad of padding,
and Little Slav knew for the first time
how it feels to be made of more than one.
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