I wrote poetry. This was always my favorite:
Sometimes all I want to do is run.
I throw my hair up with double elastic
To keep my Pantene-soaked strands together.
I change into my shorts—
They match the red wine leaves
At the base of our Japanese maple,
Just as ragged on the edges—
Unstretched elastic hangs loose,
Catching on my pelvic bones
Unlike my seven-year-old shorts,
My trainers blind, like sun on snow,
They light the pavement
As I hop-skip into a jog.
I head south toward the cumulonimbi
There’s wind, cold and penetrating
The kind that makes heavy clothes
Seem useless as loose mesh.
Every few houses,
Out of the corner of my eye,
I can see wrinkled skin
And too-bright lipstick
Peeking from behind curtains;
I can see the near-dead women
Only because I know they’re there.
Twenty-two minus four.
Long enough to know these neighbors, their habits,
This street and town.
The rain comes suddenly,
As suddenly as the street disappears
Into a cluster of trees.
But the dead end has not stopped me since I was eight,
Since Mom said I could cross the street alone.
I barely let my toes touch
To keep from sliding on the wet leaves
On the other side of maples and oaks
The main road lies empty—
Buildings are the only watchers
In the center of town:
A local bank where I opened my first account
With Mom holding my eight-year-old hand
As my moon eyes looked up at the teller,
The white plaster
Seen through walls of glass
Where the Gap mannequins used to sport polos,
An Indian restaurant
Where my friends and I got food poisoning
The day after Thanksgiving,
Store 24, which closes at eleven,
Small shops I have never seen before
And probably will not see next time I visit home.
Every cartographic speck has its charms:
My town has peace,
The chance to be alone,
To run through the rain
In shorts that will slide off
Once water weighs them down,
And no one will see.
I quicken to escape pace.
I have a fistful of dripping track shorts
And another fist punching the rain,
Pumping to make up for my lazy legs and sore knees.
I feel the pull in the front of my leg,
My shin ripping away—
I forgot the custom arches in my new shoes.
I slow to a walk
But my knees buckle after six or seven steps.
I’m on my knees and one hand,
The other still clutching more water than fabric.
I roll my shoulders and neck
Feeling liquid fingers tap my back
Rolling onto my back
The rain massaging my eyelids
I see myself running.
One of my professors liked it because it included vomit. See what kind of an education I got!