I am heavy with the day
gravity pools thick in that soft place between ankle and heel
a pink sock peeks through the hole in my tennis shoe
right, left, right, left
          say my name say my name
it’s been stuck in my head all day
          say my name say my name
right, left, right, left

Today a boy scrawled “F EVERYTHING” in sharpie on one of those chair leg tennis balls
then threw it at the white board and stormed out of the classroom
          say my name say my name
the paved shoulder is skinny and rough
its iridescent white line cracked and crumbling
          when no one is around you say baby I love you
toyota tacomas ruble past one after another leaving behind that sweet, skunky smell
          if you ain’t runnin game

I cycle through the usual thoughts:
what if someone tries to abduct and rape me?
          say my name say my name
faster now, knees pumping as they make imaginary contact with groin
          you actin kinda shady ain’ t callin me baby
a camo-clad elbow hooks over the rim of a truck bed, whistles, “run, baby!”
          say my name say my name
stomach into asphalt, eyes on the delicate green things sprouting below, despite everything,
expelling breath in hot, forceful bursts,
the seething underside of a black hole, spitting, thrusting —

I, too, understand the need to convulse outward,
to repel matter before it reaches the tender core of me.

Learn more about Madison Stuart on our Contributors page

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