The Girl Who Turned Cartwheels
It’s dusk. And dry. Boys in the neighborhood
ride their bikes, back tires kicking up dust,
spokes spinning like the cartwheels I turned
that summer those kids disappeared. For hours
every day, I too, vanished without explanation.
The rails are better than school balance beams,
I explained, coming home with blood
on my elbows, cinders in my knees.
My aunt clutched her rosary beads, prayed
to Saint Nicholas. My mother
hugged me. And then had nightmares.
I felt trapped in a car trunk, she said
to my father, sure I wasn’t listening.
I didn’t understand the crime done
so far away, the local girl and her kids
now gone. I just practiced more —
until my back was straight, until my arms
locked tight, until I no longer fell.
When my fingers burned on the August steel,
I moved to the shade. Only the sumac noticed,
bowing to my dismounts, applauding
through the rustle of dry leaves. I didn’t stop
until the rails trembled. I was sure
ghosts were there, somewhere,
making the metal beneath my fingers,
my hands, my toes, tremble.
Karen J. Weyant lives and teaches in Western New York. A
2007 Fellow in Poetry from the New York Foundation for the
Arts, her most recent work can be seen or is forthcoming in
5 AM, Barn Owl Review, The Comstock Review, the
minnesota review, and Slipstream. Her first
chapbook, Stealing Dust, is forthcoming from
Finishing Line Press in early 2009.