Each day, I am apprenticed to the boy

I want to be.


He rifles the ball

and I catch it


or I fumble.

His red head ducks and weaves,


thinking, end zone.

I tag him


or I don’t.

He swaggers


no matter what.

With the deftness


of a novice

I’ve learned the language


that drives us

toward that hallowed


and to no mind



goal line.

Fuck! is the sound of


the ball,

well-kicked, or a pass,



out of the achingly fresh


October air.

The boy I want to be


is the one who slams me

into the chain-link fence


(nascent breasts

like crushed buds)


because I won’t

stay on the sidelines,



or skip rope and sing


with the other girls

in the lee of the school.

Bibliographical info

Elizabeth Phillips, "Jacknife/2" from Torch River. Copyright © 2007 by Elizabeth Phillips. Reprinted by permission of the publisher.

Source: Torch River (Brick Books, 2007)


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