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I Knew I'd Sing
by Heather McHugh



A few sashay, a few finagle.
Some make whoopee, some
make good. But most make
diddly-squat. I tell you this

is what I love about
America -- the words it puts
in my mouth, the mouth where once
my mother rubbed

a word away with soap. The word
was cunt. She stuck that bar
of family-size in there
until there was no hole to speak of, so

she hoped. But still
I'm full of it -- the cunt,
the prick, short u, short i,
the words that stood

for her and him. I loved
the thing they must have done,
the love they must have made, to make
an example of me. After my lunch of Ivory I said

vagina for a day or two, but knew
from that day forth which word struck home
the more like sex itself.
I knew when I was big I'd sing

a song in praise of cunt -- I'd want
to keep my word, the one with teeth in it.
Even after I was raised, I swore
nothing but nothing would be beneath me.
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