Issue 3 | Summer 2008

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.

Filed under: Poetry

Karen Weyant

Karen J. Weyant’s poems and essays have appeared in The Briar Cliff Review, cream city review, Chautauqua, Copper Nickel, drafthorse, Harpur Palate, Mud Season Review, Punctuate, Rattle, River Styx, Spillway, Tahoma Literary Review, and Whiskey Island. She is the author of two poetry chapbooks. She is an Associate Professor of English at Jamestown Community College in Jamestown, New York. In her spare time, she explores the Rust Belt regions of Western New York and Northern Pennsylvania.