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C.N.P Poetry 

Aglaope; Wedding Song (excerpt); Funeral for the Hymen

By: Noelle McManus


I eat the tendons

before I eat the bones

to feel a snap

somewhere in me

like mother used to say

like the slotting of brain

(amygdala? hippocampus?)

into brain

(thalamus? striatum?)

like how the waves wash the coast

and the shells cut my heel

all that red on such a small stretch

of rock

while my hands twitch

(serotonin? dopamine?)

for something to hold

if I were to write my name

how might I spell it?

how heavy

would the letters be?

mother used to wrap our hair in poetry

and I would read the patterns

her tears formed 

on the papyrus

all my feathers slotting against the slits

in these stones

molting season again

maybe I will write a story today

maybe I will be able to

or maybe I will remember hunger

(norepinephrine? oxytocin?)

and sing a song for the sailors

all the same when night comes

I am no artist

I watch chunks of meat

strewn about the shore.

Wedding Song (excerpt)

Palermo looks like a forest 

from the right angle. I clench 

both my fists and find a place 

in the garden, just now beginning

to grow damp with autumn. It

should have been me to signal the bus.

It should have been me feeding 

the kittens. It should have been me 

singing onstage at the peña. There are

so many things i haven’t yet done. Your hands

moving up my spine. It’s been so long

since someone touched me. It’s alright, I hear you saying,

look how the sky has changed. I look up.

It has.

It has, and I think it’s winter now, though I don’t know

enough to be able to tell. You hold open the car door for me,

laugh when I thank you. I want to kiss you. I want to kiss you,

your orange hair, your willowy limbs, the way you don’t look away.

I want you to hold me. I want you to remember me. I want to

forget some things and learn others, I want to shed fear like

an old skin, I hate it, I hate it, look now, the sky’s changing again,

the water’s lapping at the dock, I’m tossing my head back 

behind a low-hanging branch and finding leaves in my lap,

it’s nearly raining again, and I want to kiss you. You touch my cheek

with your lips. Un adios argentino, you say. I only look at you.

Tengo que mejorarme. Tenés que mejorarte. Who will

wash you when you’re sick? Who will pull the covers

up to your chin? Who will drag open the persianas

in the morning? Who will clean up all your messes?

Who will walk with you when you’re old? When you’re

groaning? When your bones are all broke and brittle?

Who will laugh at your jokes? Who will listen 

to your stories? Who will tell you stories right back?

who will ghost your neck with their fingers? Who will

dance with you? Who will write you poems? Who will compare

scars with you? They’re barely there now. All bumpy

and white. They look

like mine. I’ve stopped hiding my face from you

when I cry.

I’m not crying today. I won’t cry tomorrow.

The sky is pink over Puerto Madero. 

Funeral for the Hymen

“It’s going to hurt,” she told me,

“and we’re going to bleed.”

Such was the burden saddled upon us.

Boys looked her way and she looked away

and the blinds were always too thin.

She rose, stumbling, from the water with an arm

shielding both her breasts, crying 

my name.

As if there was anything I could do about it.

It’s been a long time

since I turned in that direction,

since I lay awake with her to pose questions

about their bodies and the hair on their stomachs

and how long we had to wait for them to spill.

Fear planted itself on us

like the barnacles sucking on the dock,

a slit 

in the gaping maw I knew inside me.

Our teachers told us to pray a Hail Mary

if we went too far.

“Don’t let him go in,” they said.

“Don’t ever let him go in.”

Some nights I would undress and face myself in the mirror

and imagine Mary walking in my skin.

She’s happy now,

hangs off the arm of a good Catholic boy with tanned skin

and short, fat fingers.

I want to ask her,

does it hurt you?

She stumbles from the water, thighs 

split open

by the edge of the boat,

and he barks a laugh out at her.

I want to ask her,

does he lay you down like a bride?

does he make you bleed?

Some nights Mary crawls into bed beside me

and says she knows I want it.


Noelle McManus is a twenty-year-old writer from Long Island, New York who studies linguistics, Spanish, and German. Her work has been published in The Women's Review of Books and UMass Amherst's Jabberwocky. More information can be found

For Aglaope: "Aglaope is the name of a siren in Greek mythology, daughter of Melpomene, the Muse of tragedy. I’ve always thought that was such a funny thing—a man-eating monster born from a goddess of art. And I thought Aglaope herself would find it funny. Maybe find it a bit sad."

For Wedding Song (excerpt): "I studied in Buenos Aires for five months: February into June, summer into fall. There, I had one of the most profound depressive episodes I’d had in years, but I also learned what it meant to fall in love with a place. I expected to cry on the plane home. I didn’t."

For Funeral for the Hymen: "The two most important aspects of my life as a child were God and virginity. Neither was very loyal to me."


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