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  November 2005
volume 3 number 4
-table of contents-
  home   (archived)
  Roger Angle
  Brendan Connell
  Marie Lecrivain & Daniel Gallik
  Kenneth Hickey
  Gene Justice
  Aire Celeste Norell
  Angel Uriel Perales
  Adrian Potter
  Paula Rodriguez
  mailing list
Gene Justice
November 2005



    Gene Justice is an American ex-patriate, currently living in South Korea. He was one of the editors for the online journal, Triplopia.
    His prose and poetry have appeared online in Lotus Blooms Journal, Writers Against War, poeticdiversity, and in print in In Our Own Words: A Generation Defining Itself, Vol. 6 (MW Enterprises 2005) and Literary Angles: the second year of poeticdiversity (Sybaritic Press 2005). He also maintains a semi-consistent blog, where he collects thoughts, ruminations, and resources of interest to the working poet.




    Mary jumps, crosses her arms, jumps again, uncrosses and crosses her arms jumping, her skipping rope a whip-fast rainbow slicing the blue sky, her feet working with the mechanical regularity of springs. Mary holds them together with practiced stubbornness, knowing the power of her will over her body, though she knows nothing of either will or power. She knows what she can make her body do.
    Mary’s feet are not springs, they are caged in silver buckles, pinched into the narrow black of her shoes hiding the feet they hold, for Mary’s feet are, as Mother has said, too big. Mother in the morning, Mother who long ago (years ago, it seems, though how many years could it possibly be? And without understanding time, Mary knows, of a sudden, that time is like a telescope, that it holds her whole life in each second passing, and always will, no matter how many years she lives. She knows this with her body.) refused any longer to plait her hair of a morning: You are old enough to take care of yourself, she says, though Mary hardly feels old enough to take care of herself. Now mornings are careful attention to detail, tucking in blouses, smoothing down tights, brushing her hair, for Mary no longer seeks Mother’s aid with these details. Brush that hair properly, young lady, before I come over and brush it for you. Mother, turning from the mirror of her vanity (the vanity Mary’s father surprised Mother with two weeks after their twelfth anniversary), one half of her lower lip torn away from the other in a riot of red. Your feet are too big, she’d told her, and later, in the store, thrusting the narrowest pair of shoes she could find at Mary, the only ones that could possibly hide the ugly bigness of Mary’s feet.
    Mary skips. Across the playground she sees Eva, Eva who she knows from preschool, when learning meant plastic tea sets and baby dolls and great holes filled with sand and sieves. Eva is laughing, her own unraveling braids swinging wildly in the cool autumn of a playground game of tag. When the two of them knew less of time, and the sandpit was a day-long diversion, Eva would strain the sand for debris, twigs and wood chips and the gumnuts (Mary can name them now, for she knows what they are really called) that seemed to lie everywhere, dropping like snow from the sky-tall eucalypts—these gumnuts Eva called penises. She once said the word to one of the teachers, and the teacher had grown red and sweaty and made Eva sit down, and asked too many questions (each question tearing away at the time remaining for their vital search through the sands), questions Eva didn’t understand except to understand that you should not talk to teachers about penises. Now, sandpits are for babies, or dirty boys who chuck sand at you if your castle is in the way of the innumerable tunnels and roads their greedy minds seem always to be conjuring up. And penises, as Mary now knows, do not fall from eucalypts.
    The rainbow blur of Mary’s skipping rope divides Eva’s motions into frames, like the pictures they show on the projector at school, and Mary does not understand the sadness she feels when she remembers bath time with Eva: the way they dumped the flotilla of plastic toys into the waiting water in a squealing fit of joy or madness or whatever makes one squeal at that age, the duck’s implacable expression as it bobbed up and down on the water sending them into paroxysms of laughter—laughter they even then tried to smother in order to keep the adults at bay—or Barbie sinking to the hard white of the ocean’s floor, and the circuitous routes their rescue missions would take on as they tried to save her. They used to part the lips of their vaginas underwater and try to stare up into themselves. Mary feels this sadness and savors it, knows without being told that it is something to be savored, even while she doesn’t know why she feels it.
    Mary jumps and jumps again. She doesn’t know why she jumps or even why she would want to know. Sometimes she misses, and at those times she feels the sting of the rope as it whips down on her legs and she knows that this is the penalty one pays for living. She tastes the sting with her mind, licking at its edges, feeling it melt beneath her tongue like the hardened sugar of a lollypop, only it is not sweet, it is salty hot, it is the taste of everything Mary has ever wanted and been denied. And then, she jumps again.

copyright 2005 Gene Justice