Featuring the poetry of Kathleen Aguero, Judith Barrington, Carolyn Martin, and Penelope Scambly Schott; Curated by Poetry Co-editor Judith Arcana.
Diana Playing Soccer with Her Nymphs on Cambridge Common by Kathleen Aguero
Our Lady of the Wild Things is pent up in the goal.
Unadorned, hair bound in braids,
her nymphs protect her honor. She’s too aloof
to beg like lesser girls, but when the coach calls
for substitutions, she looks arrows his way. Sprung,
she sprints to offense, nymphs whooping at her side.
Out of youngest childhood, they’re not ball shy.
They throw their changing bodies with abandon,
crashing into one other, checking
with their just-formed hips.
A player from the other team falls down,
tripped by her untied lace. Someone kicks
the ball from her, skimming her knee,
and boots it to Diana, who crazed
after her long time in the goal, can barely control
her foot work. Still, she angles
the ball up field, weaving through the opposition. Score!
High fives and sweaty hugs. They keep the ball
up there so long their own defense is dancing
hip-hop out of boredom, the new goalie
calling to their coach, Daddy, get me out of here!
Players on the sidelines wild
to go back in. You can see why Venus has nothing
to offer these girls, why they don’t even
notice passing men glance curiously
their way. Their fathers’ faces glow,
beguiled by their eleven-year-old daughters.
Their mothers’ smiles, more shadowed,
would like to keep them there forever —
safe and vibrant. Shoppers come more thickly
on the footpath now, and farther down a truck arrives
with lunch for the homeless. The older team gathers
to play next, boyfriends at their sides, but these girls
have two more minutes and they’re in the game.
Afterwards, the teams debrief then mingle.
Arms around each other, they gossip about school
until their parents’ calls grow more insistent
and one by one they leave the sacred grove.
Kathleen Aguero’s poetry collections include “Investigations: The Mystery of the Girl Sleuth,” “Daughter Of,” (in which “Diana Playing Soccer …” originally appeared), “The Real Weather” and “Thirsty Day.” She has co-edited three volumes of multi-cultural literature for the University of Georgia Press and is poetry editor of Solstice Literary Magazine. She teaches at Pine Manor College, Chestnut Hill, MA in both the undergraduate and low-residency M.F.A. programs.
WHY YOUNG GIRLS LIKE TO RIDE BAREBACK by Judith Barrington
You grasp a clump of mane in your left hand,
spring up and fall across her back;
then, pulling on the wiry black hair
which cuts into your palm and fourth finger,
haul yourself up till your right leg
swings across the plump cheek of her hindquarters.
Now you hold her, warm and alive, between your thighs.
In summer, wearing shorts, you feel the dander
of her coat, glossy and dusty at the same time,
greasing up the insides of your calves,
and as she walks, each of your knees in turn
feels the muscle bulge out behind her shoulder.
Trotting’s a matter of balance. You bounce around
unable to enter her motion as you will when the trot
breaks and she finally waltzes from two to three time.
Nothing to be done at the trot but grab again that mane
that feels, though you don’t yet know it, like pubic hair,
and straddle her jolting spine with your seat bones
knowing that when the canter comes, you will suddenly
merge — you and that great, that powerful friend:
she, bunching up behind, rocking across the fulcrum,
exploding forward on to the leading leg, and you
digging your seat down into the sway of her back,
your whole body singing: we are one, we are one, we are one.
Judith Barrington is the author of three volumes of poetry including “Horses and the Human Soul,” and two chapbooks including “Postcard from the Bottom of the Sea.” Her “Lifesaving: A Memoir” won the Lambda Book Award and her “Writing the Memoir: From Truth to Art” is a bestseller in the U.S., Germany and Australia. She is on the faculty of the University of Alaska’s MFA program. More at http://www.judithbarrington.com.
It’s good I’m slow by Judith Barrington
Sure must hurt when this gets hit.
He pinched my breast so hard,
so fast, I cocked my fists
and stood shock-still.
Never saw this kid before —
never would again —
this white-bread boy gawking
at soft mounds beneath
my shirt — as if he’d never seen
a girl or knew what one’s about.
He’d caught me in a break
from smacking balls to Jackie
in left field, to Louie
right of second base.
My boys would zip them back
quick as I could smash them out.
Sweat dripping down my face,
I froze — enraged by
what this kid had done.
I had him by two years,
an inch at least,
a few more pounds
than I could calculate.
No doubt I’d take him down.
I sifted through the list:
a bloody nose,
a blackened eye,
a broken bone somewhere,
a kick in parts he’d not forget.
But narrowing my choice,
I caught dumb innocence
in eyes that couldn’t see
that what he’d done showed less
than real concern for how I’d hurt.
They seemed amazed my anger
wasn’t outright gratefulness.
Sometimes I think it’s good I’m slow
to figure out what’s going on.
I slacked my fists and pushed him down
the first base line. My finger in his chest,
I taught this kid a rule of etiquette
Carolyn Martin has lived a rich life of teaching, traveling, and writing as she transformed herself from Roman Catholic nun and an Associate Professor of English to an international management trainer. Her poems have appeared in “Christian Century,” “Drash,” “Naugautuck River Review,” “Becoming: What Makes A Woman” and “Sciene Poetry.” In July 2011 her first collection, “Finding Compass,” was released by Queen of Wands Press, Portland, OR. She currently serves as president of the board of VoiceCatcher, a non-profit community that inspires, empowers, and connects women writers and artists in greater Portland/Vancouver
How beautiful are thy feet with shoes… Song of Solomon, 7:1by Penelope Scambly
When I used to run, my shoes
believed they were part of my feet –
they crouched and waited
like a golden retriever staring at me,
trying so hard to be patient –
look how good – as I pulled on shorts.
I shut the door, and bird song
descended the cool trunks of trees,
When I sped up, clouds
rushed faster over my thin shadow
until it vanished. I ran on
into the sunlight, my arms like shafts
pistoning forward, turning
train wheels, but my smooth track
was only the dirt mule path
beside the Delaware and Raritan Canal.
There were no more barges
and the mules had been dead for years,
but I was young, and my hips
swung loosely as if from golden ropes.
Penelope Scambly Schott likes to write about strong women. Her verse biography “A Is for Anne: Mistress Hutchinson Disturbs the Commonwealth” received the Oregon Book Award for Poetry. Her most recent full-length collection is “Crow Mercies” from Calyx Books.