I face the line on Earth Day,
my forty-seventh birthday,
and mourn for the athlete’s body, the dancer,
the woman who could hop from rock to rock
without losing her balance;
who once thought about becoming a figure model
for a group of Impressionists looking for curves,
long lines, shiny hair, and smooth skin;
who ran in the sun, the rain, and the wind,
in the Truffle Trot and the Butte to Butte;
who never stopped to consider
how it would have to end
when she was forced to look for gentler ways:
Reuse the Past, Recycle the Present, Save the Future.
Now this line irritates her like a sliver.
She limps along next to it, fretting
over how some throw in the towel
when they reach the other side.
A mysterious landslide
just comes tumbling down
and smothers the green shoots that once bloomed each year.
She wonders if the earth will crack open right here,
releasing hot friction between two giant plates
like the sore places in her ankles.
That’s when she decides to stand on the line.
Step on a crack. Break your mother’s back.
She paws at it forcefully.
She flashes her red cape,
listening closely as the crowd cheers—
as the moment balances in the air.
She exhales right over it,
trying to learn how far she can walk in a day,
singing again after all these years.
Previously published in The Ballad of the New Carissa and Other Poems.
Kari Wergeland is the author of Voice Break, as well as The Ballad of the New Carissa and Other Poems. In addition, she wrote a children’s book review column for The Seattle Times, which ran monthly for 11 years. Wergeland recently earned an MFA in Creative Writing from Pacific University. She works as a librarian for Cuyamaca College in El Cajon, CA, and lives part-time on the Oregon Coast. For more information, please refer to her website: kariwergeland.wordpress.com.