Dangerous for Girls
Corinna McClanahan Schroeder

Dangerous for Girls

     “Romance-reading by young girls will, by this excitement of the bodily organs, tend to create
      their premature development, and the child becomes physically a woman months, or even years,
      before she should.”

            -Dr. Mary Wood-Allen, What a Young Woman Ought to Know (1899)

Deep in the orchard of summer, the girl lies in the grass

and reads, novel spread open on her knees, parchment

of a bee’s wing snagged in her hair. The nearest man

hoes a field two miles east. Though the girl’s mother measures

her skirts longer each season, blades of grass can still itch

her ankles, the arches of her feet. The girl is almost to the story’s

turn, where the heroine must choose: the greying suitor’s clock-tick

house or the golden singer’s kisses scalding her skin. But is the choice

really a choice? The girl, for now, is still a girl surrounded

by droning bees. Pink mouth open, paperback slack,

she loses her place under the apples’ ripening.

Corinna McClanahan Schroeder

is the author of Inked, winner of the 2014 X. J. Kennedy Poetry Prize. Her poems have recently appeared in such journals as Blackbird, Crazyhorse, Gulf Coast, and The Southern Review. She lives in Los Angeles, where she teaches in the writing program at the University of Southern California.