Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Poems I Admire #10

Alita Darcy

Thinking of her now, that thirteen-year-old girl who died by smacking
into a moving box truck at the bottom of Haskell Street when her bike
brakes failed, I don’t think of her as much as I think of our music
teacher, Mr Dunn, and how exasperated he’d get with Alita when she
came to chorus and put her feet up on the row of chairs in front of her,
leaned back, heavy with attitude, crossed her arms, and fixed him
with her haughty stare until he’d look away, unsure of how to bridle
her, she who never did her homework, talked back and snapped her
gum, said the F-word under her breath, she who I looked up to with
awe, her seventh grader to my sixth seeming a world away, and I think
of the other girl on the back of the bike, nameless to me now, the one
who jumped off in time Alita lost control, and how she must
have felt guilty to be glad for her life, and I think of my own son, the
same age now, and how he is just a boy, and so she must have been
just a girl, and not the powerhouse I made her, her hard surface
probably hiding hurt beneath, and maybe Mr. Dunn wasn’t the
hypocrite I thought when he cried for her after she was gone, perhaps
he saw her as the child she was and mourned for the way he lost their
staring contests, wishing he’d had the fortitude to make her flinch
when he still could, make her lower her long legs in those two-toned
jeans, make her throw out her gum and behave so that she wouldn’t
be the kind of girl to joyride down the steepest hill in town carrying a
friend behind her on the banana seat, daring someone to call her bluff,
no sense knocked into her yet, no fear.

First appeared in Naugatuck River Review.

Rebecca Hart Olander’s poetry has appeared recently, or is forthcoming, in Brilliant Corners, Naugatuck River Review, and Silkworm, and her critical work has appeared in Rain Taxi Review of Books and Solstice Literary Magazine. She was the winner of the 2013 Women’s National Book Association poetry contest, judged by Molly Peacock. Rebecca earned her MFA in Poetry from Vermont College of Fine Arts. She lives in Western Massachusetts where she teaches writing at Westfield State University and serves on the board of Perugia Press. You can find her at rebeccahartolander.com.

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