I see myself in the high school cafeteria, leaning in to hear
above the clamor. In stirrup pants and leg warmers, I’m a confusion
of books and boyfriends, backpack tiled with buttons: Cats, Not Kids.
After college, a decade passes with a husband. Two cats. No attempts
to make it otherwise. Then that afternoon in a friend’s kitchen—
my arm stretched to spread paint, I feel the air behind me ignite.
When I let go
of the roller, turn, I am pressed
between sheetrock and a woman’s weight. Around me, everything tinder.
Yet most times, a later scene lingers: calendars, injections with my feet in stirrups.
Then cramps. Tears. Embrace of the woman who loved me then.
Scene repeated for nearly a year. Fruitless pursuit for what my body would not bear.
Wendy DeGroat’s poetry has appeared in U.S. and U.K. publications, including Common-place, Raleigh Review, Beltway Poetry Quarterly, Mslexia, Forage, and The Brillantina Project. She lives in Richmond, Virginia, where she works as a librarian, teaches writing workshops, and curates poetryriver.org. Her chapbook Beautiful Machinery is forthcoming from Headmistress Press in 2017.