Laura Warner’s poem explores the effect of direct conversation with the vagina, and how the words and language we choose to use can alter our relationship and power dynamics with our bodies.
My Vagina, My Valentine
You went all out:
took me away for the weekend;
dropped wet red petals in blooming trails
across the white ceramic tiles of the hotel bathroom;
grew a fat red strawberry clot and presented it to me
in the blue-white bowl of the restaurant toilet;
made me a perfume that smelled like seaweed drying
on my favourite Cornish beach. Said,
because I know you like the beach when it’s hot
and the flies buzz.
You made me a romantic playlist: I’ve been singing
everything I do, I do it for you
on repeat, for three days.
You painted my nails red, stained the cuticles;
you printed heart shapes into a thick cotton towel.
I turn my attention to someone else, and you can’t cope:
you flood my menstrual cup till I can hear the suction kissing
in and out, and then warm blood seeps into my knickers.
I can’t concentrate.
Sometimes I let it go cold, the blood,
just to show you that I can, but it makes things worse.
You won’t be ignored: will bear down,
force the cup to shift, its pointed end jabbing
your soft walls. You says things like,
love me, love yourself and hurt me, hurt yourself.
When I relent and go to the bathroom,
I peel down layers of wet fabric to find
the ragged petals of a dying peony
printed like a Rorschach across my inner thighs.
Now, it’s day four and I can’t do it anymore.
You know it. I remove my cup before I shower,
think of a red wine glass by the sink in the morning.
About Laura Warner
Laura Warner (she/her) is a poet and PhD researcher based in the Wellcome Centre for the Cultures and Environments of Health,University of Exeter. Her project, Uterine Poetics, explores the condition endometriosis through poetry. Her work has appeared in Dear Reader and in the SRHM Journal’s anthology of poetry on sexual and reproductive justice. Twitter: @warner_writer @MenstrualPoetic.
This poem was submitted for our latest mini-series, Our Body’s Bodies
Everything is written on the body – but what does it mean to write about our bodies in the era of Covid-19? And is it possible to write about bodily experiences in the face of such pervasive and continued violence? Using different modes of writing and art making, Lucy Writers presents a miniseries featuring creatives whose work, ideas and personal experiences explore embodiment, bodily agency, the liberties imposed on, taken with, or found in our bodies. Beginning from a position of multiplicity and intersectionality, our contributors explore their body’s bodies and the languages – visual, linguistic, aural, performance-based and otherwise – that have enabled them to express and reclaim different forms of (dis)embodiment in the last two years. Starting with the body(s), but going outwards to connect with encounters that (dis)connect us from the bodies of others – illness, accessibility, gender, race and class, work, and political and legal precedents and movements – Our Body’s Bodies seeks to shine a light on what we corporally share, as much as what we individually hold true to.
Bringing together work by artistic duo Kathryn Cutler-MacKenzie and Ben Caro, poet Emily Swettenham, writer and poet Elodie Rose Barnes, author Ayo Deforge, writer and researcher Georgia Poplett, writer and poet Rojbîn Arjen Yigit, writer and researcher Hannah Hutchings-Georgiou and many others, as well as interviews with and reviews of work by Elinor Cleghorn, Lucia Osbourne Crowley and Alice Hattrick, Lucy Writers brings together individual stories of what our bodies have endured, carried, suffered, surpassed, craved and even enjoyed, because…these bodies are my body; we are a many bodied being. Touch this one, you move them all, our bodies’ body.
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