Best of the Net 2013  

Why She Wrestles

Not to be made
tomboy martyr,
not to swallow
forfeit wins
from "upright"
opponents eclipsed
by their fathers,
not her mama's cauliflower-
worry; not the suppression
of skullcaps, humility
of bent knees; not to be
undressed daily
by the serrated slights
of drill partners, cheerleaders,
and classmates alike
but because a fervor
hatched and hived inside her
like brilliant, golden
wasps on the morning
a neighborhood boy,
boogered with bad intent,
pinned her to cold mud
beneath a naked maple,
made her cuss and thrash
until she yelped
but did not weep,
and she swore
to never again be held
under such wronged light,
to rewind the memory's black spool
before each blown whistle,
to whoop that boy, somehow
and for good, in the crouched
figure circling ahead:
what wishes to steal
her distance.

- Chris Joyner (from Penduline Press)