We are all beautiful at seventeen,
our flawless skins attached to willing
bones and sinews. Some of us are
waiting for our chance, for someone
to say, let’s make out like a couple
of teenagers, or the stranger with
a bottle of Boone’s Farm Apple Wine
he will share though you are underage.
Or the joint passing around the room,
making you happily relaxed in the
front-closing lace bra you are willing
to shed for the unknown, the chance
at real love, not what you left behind
at home, your father missing you,
smoking cigarette after cigarette.
You do not know yet how lovely you are
with soft brown hair and blue eyes
flecked with squiggles. And though
your body is not like the striking grace
of cheerleaders back home, it stuns
with dazzling breasts and big areoles
that men will kiss and love. You will
learn of this loveliness even as you scorn
those who are not worthy. Later, your friends
will grow into their flesh as you grow
away, already ahead, open and waiting,
discovering a taste for a certain sort of man.
He is the one who will hurt you
with his attention/inattention, leaving
you alone some weekends when you
want his body and crazy kisses. What
he suggests you do over and over, though
you have performed for your father
for years. It is all new, this perfection,
a body that happily does as you bid,
no thought or chance of illness, destruction
or loss. Love your gorgeousness.
It will not come again---this purity of spirit,
this holiness, this beam and shine
beacons from your eyes, your eyes.
Virginia Chase Sutton's second book, What Brings You to Del Amo, winner of the Morse Poetry Prize, has been reissued as a free ebook by Doubleback Books. Embellishments is her first book and Of a Transient Nature is her third. Down River is her chapbook. Seven times nominated for the Pushcart Prize, her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in The Paris Review, Ploughshares, QU, Mom Egg Review, The Laurel Review, and The Comstock Review, among many other literary publications, journals, and anthologies. Sutton's poems have won a poetry scholarship to Bread Loaf, the National Poet Hunt, the Allen Ginsberg Award, and the Paumanock Visiting Writer's Award and Reading Series. She has received fellowships from the Ragdale Foundation, Vermont Studio Center, Vermont College of Fine Arts, and Writers at Work. Awards include three times from Poets & Writers, Arizona Humanities Council, Arizona Commission on the Arts, and many others. She lives in Tempe, Arizona.