Wryly Tender

Chronology of Loss

I lost my virginity at 14 when my step-cousin (who was also 14) dared me to straddle the neighbor’s chain link fence and “ride it like a bucking bronco.” I’d never been on a horse before.


I lost my virginity at 17 when I pushed the neck of an empty Orangina bottle into and out of my cunt. I didn’t yet know the words “flared base.” I knew want. Had to learn about the borderland of my insides/outsides/insides. I’d started drinking Orangina because my French teacher had given me one. It tasted fancy.


I lost my virginity at 29 when the doctor pushed a small needle through my thigh and plunged a new form of puberty between the muscles I was relaxing with difficulty.


I lost my virginity at 8 when Helen and I stuffed the fronts of our bikinis with river rocks. When she wasn’t looking I slipped a third smooth stone down into my bottoms. I liked having three lumps.


I lost my virginity at 22 when, after doing handstands and cartwheels in the wet back yard, after pizza, sangria, and weed enough to make me nauseous, we two poets watched the movie Teeth. Instead of falling asleep in that beanbag chair we started to feel each other up. The necessary warmth of her mouth floating down, upturning my worst fears. She put her tongue in me and swished. The dryness of my mouth tasted like oranges.


I lost my virginity at 7, on the train tracks where I pretended to tie my best friend Jenny to the rails and commanded she lie there withstanding the danger as long as she could.


I lost my virginity at 18 when I let my two gay best friends cup my breasts (each for each) so that they could confirm how much nothing they felt. I felt everything.


I lost my virginity on Tuesday when I came hard from just a mouth on my right nipple and then again as my boifriend went chasing after the left. This is how testosterone changes my sexual experience.


I lost my virginity at 16 when I had my first anxiety attack because I tried to crowd surf at Bumbershoot while wearing a skirt.


I lost my virginity at poetry camp when I let someone else’s boyfriend fuck me with his face and fingers in front of a semicircle of our peers. It started as a game of afternoon charades. There may or may not have been a puppet of Lawrence Ferlinghetti looking on.


I lost my virginity sophomore year when I decided to stay with a man who retracted the words “I love you.” I stayed because my need for closeness always stood in the doorway. I stayed to talk about our mutual attraction to Rachel Weiz, Michelle Rodriguez, and Holly, the butch girl in our poetry class with the starback tattoos. The sex was amazing without fail.


I lost my virginity at 25 when the speculum’d pressure stopped any children from coming.


I lost my virginity at 13 when my father’s friend, who’d kindly invited us over to swim in his pool, pinched hard through my swimsuit bottom. It was brief enough to look like nothing or feel like an accident. Except for the way his eyes guillotined after mine while I swam away. He did this 4 times.


I lost my virginity at 22 when I cheated on the man who unlearned how to love me. The boy I fucked interviewed me so he could write a paper about low income and first generation college students. We met at a contra dance or in a Russian Lit course. We stayed up all night talking before our birdsongbangfest. I let myself like him because back then I loved to say “I just have a thing for Asian men.” He was thin, pretty, and exactly my height. When I took off his shirt he covered his chest and told me “I have gynecomastia, which means I kinda sorta have breasts.” He was also the first person to show me how to properly wash out my ass. The unloving boyfriend was also Asian. I tried even then not to think about fucking Toru as an upgrade. I failed.


I lost my virginity last Friday when I said to my boifriend “If I could marry 2 people I would want to marry you.”


I lost my virginity at 11 when I ran my hole body and bashed my head into a steel support pole because I was staring intently at Taylor Ogden from my science class. My desire for the dark in those eyes concussing me.


I lost my virginity at 13 when I slipped Jessica Randal’s socks onto my hands so we could play in the snow longer than anybody else. Our numb fingers might’ve held each other. My body doesn’t remember.


I’ve lost my virginity in a thousand ways my body will never let me remember.


I lost my virginity by stealing my mother’s right to grieve for the daughter she lost before me. Miranda.


I’m not finished losing. I am no longer a daughter.


I ache to say what I can’t say to my mother.


We will never be finished losing.


Wryly Tender is a poet and accidental memoirist. They hold an MFA in Creative Writing from Antioch University Los Angeles. Their poetry first collection My Ugly and Other Love Snarls is available from University of Hell Press. Wryly is an intimacy witch, level-12 empath, and a tattoo whisperer.


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