Jon Cwiok

I remember when they tried to teach me about sex in grade school. Catholic grade school. They made us dissect flowers-roses, I remember-us boys, anyway. They took the budding, giggling girls off to a separate room, and of what they talked, I dare not speculate.

We were instructed to peel the petals off the roses, and the crushed, red curves settled on the dirty floor like dropped kisses, all over the blue green linoleum. We tore out the stamen and violated the ovaries; we raped those flowers under direct orders. And they didnšt try to dress the lesson up with punctuations of love, or talk about marriage or commitment. They just had us butcher flowers, then played a dull filmstrip that contained no mention of anything remotely sexual-I just remember grey men in lab coats being swept over by the lines in the film grain, and the steady sputtering of the ancient projector.

"Does anyone have any questions?" asked the nun, her wide body resting in her tan blouse as if she'd concealed loaves of warm bread all about her body.

And who would respond?

Not I-who had no idea how the sperm got to the egg, and was still under the fading delusion that women had a penis-a hollow penis, which would deftly wrap around and pull in the male organ, forming a clumsy link of pink and purple flesh between the bodies..

Not all the other little boys, who grinningly knew what sex was, who eagerly knew what getting laid meant, who had seen it on HBO and in stolen Playboys.

Jon Cwiok is, in reality, a bitter old rook locked in a birdcage and force-fed childhood memories. Full of ghosts, he pecks at a typewriter night and day.

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