Gnashing Teeth Publishing

| words that get in your teeth

Stop Telling Your Daughters Their Virginity is a Holy Commodity by Tinamarie Cox

grey and black cat laying on a bed with a book

*today’s Poem of the Day is in .jpg format to preserve formatting

text of poem part one

text of poem part two

*this is the unformatted text of the poem

I fell so hard for him,
eager to exchange love and feel complete,
though my interpretation of such concepts was skewed by
a principled thrashing of an upbringing
and my racing youthful reasoning.

It wasn’t long
before we stained his bedsheets.

But I couldn’t enjoy the moment,
I had changed my mind mid-way,
and was too afraid not to let him finish.

Everything between us was rosy and warm,
yet so new and uncertain,
and I am the type to fear the worst possible consequences.

Which was worse to lose,
my heart or my soul?

I loved him.
I thought I loved Him.

So, I punished myself,
repeating that I hadn’t played my cards wisely,
drinking bitter disappointment and sour disgrace,
because I hadn’t followed a more virtuous plan.

There was supposed to be a ring,
a white dress,
sacred words, and a blessing
before I traded such a priceless piece of me.

I bottled up all my self-loathing,
because the pressure was my medicine…
and my poison.

When I tried to hide myself away,
shame and guilt ravenously consuming me,
he followed me without hesitation
rather than leave content with only what I let him have.

His face destroyed me further.
But it was his words that saved me.

It took me years to decide how I should feel,
to believe him and his ring,
that I was still a good and loveable thing.

I let that moment of unjustified regret haunt me,
claim me,
call me unworthy,
unholy, and filthy.

I listened to my mother’s words,
how I had lived in inexcusable sin,
let her toxins seep in and contaminate me.

I felt that hot, penitent breath in my ears
with every thrust from my husband’s hips
despite our loving matrimonial bed,
like the stab, stab, stab
of a sharp blade.

And one day,
when the voice began to rise like a tide,
to pull me under its influence once again,
I heard it so clearly,
and I realized it wasn’t mine.

The knife wasn’t righteous or atoning,
didn’t belong in my hand,
shouldn’t have been anointed by my disgust.

I learned its true name: a lie,
a belief that wasn’t meant to be mine
a tool that had manipulated me for far too long.

I was loved.
I deserved that love.

I was allowed to enjoy his weight on top of me.
Our bodies had always belonged together.

And finally,
the cold steel shattered against my skin.

Tinamarie Cox lives in Arizona with her husband, two children, and a one-eyed cat. Her written and visual work has appeared in numerous publications in various genres. She is the author of a poetry chapbook, Self-Destruction in Small Doses (Bottlecap Press, 2023), and a forthcoming collection, Through a Sea Laced with Midnight Hues (Nymeria Publishing, 2024). You can find more of her work at

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