PORTRAIT OF THE SCHOOLGIRL AS A CHASTE MAID UP TO NOTHING GOOD
That Monday after Thanksgiving,
I rode my rebellious cayuse all the way
to the ball field at Community Park, a hobble
from the mine fire stoking under our hills.
Me in a kilt, scarlet tartan six inches above
the knees and knee-highs to shield my calves
from the metal bleacher's chill. First day
of deer-hunting season, of course, a school holiday
with every mother in her dress factory,
every father at (what was left of) a mine.
Where they were "flushing" not water
but fill, reclamation that was supposed to
stop our world from caving in. My surrender
came sinking, fast. My mantra: Get it over with.
All the "Mother may Is" fled from circulation,
replaced by a capillary of sneak. I climbed
into the cherry of his Jeep, the single smile of color
on that landscape of pothole, ziggurats of coal
that shifted, dispiriting and bleak. Temporary reliquary
now abandoning her sweet, I turned peninsula,
desperate to be flooded by his waters, tempted
by his pretty, whispering words. There was the shock
of him naked; I stayed in my good-luck sweater,
the one I wore for the SATs. Otherwise an ordinary
morning: its soundtrack tick on a turntable, the last cut
finished, the stylus beyond the grooves. Only after,
did we notice my artery of red on the sheets.
Nancy Flynn grew up on the Susquehanna River in northeastern Pennsylvania, spent many years on a creek in Ithaca, New York, and now lives near the mighty Columbia in Portland, Oregon. She attended Oberlin College, Cornell University, and has an M.A. from SUNY/Binghamton. Her writing's received an Oregon Literary Fellowship and the James Jones First Novel Fellowship. A complete list of her publications is at www.nancyflynn.com.