The poems contained in this series, “Liberating Words,” came out of an interdisciplinary course for high school juniors at The Winsor School, an all-girls school in Boston. The course, “The Personal Is Political: An Interdisciplinary Look at Feminism,” is co-taught by Libby Parsley, a history teacher, and Susanna Ryan, an English teacher. The second unit of the course focuses on the history and literature of second-wave feminism: the women’s liberation movement of the 1960s and ’70s. Students read a compilation of poems by women writers from that period and then wrote their own poems; the assignment asked them to represent an issue or problem they see as central to 21st-century women’s experience through the very personal genre of poetry.
By Katie Cronin
His hand finds the button on my jeans
I gently push his hand away without taking my lips off his
“Why did you do that?”
I’ve screwed up now
Why do we have to move so fast?
Why can’t we take it slow?
like in the old movies
with opened doors and pulled out chairs
where he wouldn’t dare kiss you on the first date
so you’ll say yes to a second
But wanting that makes me a prude
No one wants to date a prude
And if you’re not a prude you’re a slut
Don’t act like a slut!
Except when you’re alone with him
You have to know exactly what you’re doing
But don’t forget you’re a virgin
So he can take that from you
It would be a necessary sacrifice to keep him
So don’t ask why he did that
“I don’t know, I’m sorry.”
He said it was okay. He doesn’t know
the apology was really to yourself
Ask for your own forgiveness, not permission
Because later you will cry yourself to sleep
Not with regret. No, it’s disappointment
Disappointment in yourself
Remembering he accepted the empty apology
And reached for the button.
“I love you.”
Photo courtesy of Flickr user Jeffrey licensed under Creative Commons 2.0
Katie Cronin is a junior at the Winsor School in Boston, where she is involved in track and cross country, the Amnesty International club and the school spirit club.