Restoring Virginity


The surgeon begins
to reconstruct, of shattered
membrane, small crescents,
and a gelcap of artificial
blood to weep.

Without a face or a name,
her body’s logic
tells her she is ruined, but she
has at least escaped her captors.
No longer a child.

She relives the fear, the shame
of slavery in salt-tears that
blotch her niqab like raindrops
fallen from a great height. She
wants to be new again.

As she tells
her history to a journalist,
she exposes
one thin arm above the wrist
where she cut and inked words

that maintained her,
drinking bleach,
and pulling the trigger of
a gun she thought was loaded,

and after
strangling herself
with her scarf—
all that failed her.

Although the surgeon sews
a blessing he fashions
to explode,
then disappear,
she says she’ll never marry.


Photo: veiled girl in old Marib (18-6-05) by Jon Bowen


About Author

Kathleen S. Burgess, poet, editor, retired music teacher, union officer, statistical typist, server, solderer, videographer, and hitchhiker through North, Central, and South America, has poetry appearing in North American Review, The Examined Life, Evening Street Review, Malpaís Review, Turtle Island Quarterly, Mudfish, JMWW, other journals and anthologies. Her chapbook Shaping What Was Left and the anthology she edited Reeds and Rushes—Pitch, Buzz, and Hum are Pudding House publications. Hitchhiking through Ruins and The Wonder Cupboard are forthcoming.

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