and bandy-legged, I passed time
among hills and hay, swam in dirty
pools. The summer skies were green-
eyed, the color of witches and grassy
cow pies. I was greedy for blue.
In the fields, in the high school with no AC,
men with big teeth scolded girls’ skin.
Shirts must cover shoulders.
Shorts must be longer than arms can swing.
Our bodies were symmetry or else
scandal. After the horse
crushed my toenail, I chewed the rim
off a Dixie cup of Kool-Aid
while a clutch of girls prayed
my foot would heal. I wished
the horse in the field would feel pain.
Later a boy I didn’t know
grabbed my ponytail at a football game
and breathed in my hair in front
of my father, who described it
to everyone around: he was intoxicated
by her, that boy, and I was mortified.
I had powers yet to be harnessed,
ones I couldn’t name. I tell you,
I willed it, and that horse: it went lame.
Anne Barngrover is the author of Yell Hound Blues (Shipwreckt Books, 2013) and co-author with Avni Vyas of the chapbook Candy in Our Brains (CutBank, 2014). Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in North American Review, Copper Nickel, Ecotone, Crazyhorse, and Mid-American Review, among others. She holds graduate degrees from Florida State University (MFA) and University of Missouri (PhD).