Hooked Up

Drunk, partying, she
and the man just hooked up
she tells me, the college student, the nervous
canít-sit-still woman,
dark-haired, laughing, pierced tongue,
pierced navel, colored threads
braided into bracelets around her wrist,
barely making it through finals,
graduating next spring then
maybe a Masterís, but for today,
she says, the problem is fear,
What if I caught something, this worry
hooked into her and now
she slides down, eager but not eager
for me to do cultures, blood tests,
to tell her everything is fine.
Oh how often Iíve seen this,
this fear twisted in as if there might be
a tangle inside, shiny, metallic,
like wire, and how each time
I have to pull it out,
strand by strand,
trying not to weep over this
one more woman hooked up,
these barbs deep into flesh,
and how they can only be extracted
with moans and cries, each one
ripping through until
there is no more innocence,
only this woman and me,
helpless to do anything
but go on pulling the hooks from her,
stuffing them into the garbage,
telling her how sweet they must have seemed
that night, how she must learn to recognize them
before they gain entrance; how strong
she must be now, how resolute.

Cortney Davis is a nurse practitioner at a women's health
clinic in Danbury, Conn. As a writer, Davis has garnered
an NEA Poetry Fellowship and two poetry grants from the
Connecticut Commission on the Arts. Her latest poetry
collection is Leopold's Maneuvers. Most recently, her
essay was showcased on NPR.

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