Conversion, or, Homage to Molly Bloom

That summer I swore to remain a virgin.
I could practice wooing if I kept saying

No, something I’d learned to say to the Devil,
that insidiously devious monster conjured

for us by the nuns, who swore our chastity
was a gift beyond measure. So why not

prolong it, make myself more and more
sought after? I thought in such ways then.

Categorical, extreme, unrelenting.
It was a hot summer, and I knew how heat

stirred men to lust. Or so I’d read. Most
of what I knew of men I’d read, the nuns

being unreliable sources, except when it came
to the Devil, who they warned would come

in beguiling guises. But I began to consider
how dull chastity was, how the body wanted

what it wanted. The nuns insisted we say No
to the body, which began sending warnings

in dreams that denying it would lead to ruin,
warnings I ignored all summer until the night

a boy came along so beautifully muscled
and tender I woke into nothing but yes.

 

 

 

 

Lynne Knight is the author of six chapbooks and six full-length poetry collections, most recently The Language of Forgetting (Sixteen Rivers Press). Her work has appeared in many journals and received many honors, including a PSA Lucille Medwick Memorial Award, a Rattle Poetry Prize, and an NEA grant. She lives on Vancouver Island.