Some things girls know

The slow thrashing of the rope against the pavement
spit out a pattern, a rhythm that we counted in our heads, before
pledging ourselves and plunging straight
into the swirling center of the rope.  Wrap her up
in tissue paper, send her down the elevator, first floor-
STOP.  That starts the easy one, the beginner’s game,
where we stood and got our ankles slapped.  From there
the tricks progressed to turning, touching, and finally
slipping away through the worm tunnel of air.  We learned
all the heart stamping tricks in those days spent beating
our feet on concrete driveways –  what to do when robbers
came knocking at your door, how to grit your teeth, take
the blame for all the broken bottles – as you’re pushed
faster and faster, the whip and laughter spreading
like a stain, your feet keeping up, keeping up, keeping up,
until you can’t handle it any more, stumble, miss the beat, stop
it all and there is nothing left to do, but take the end,
turn the handle for some other girl’s jammed feet, watch her in
longing, waiting to trip her up, make her scream, punish her
in that whirlwind that left everyone panting: red hot pepper.

Published in:
The Monkey’s Fist
2007

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