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Girl on the Run

While running among a troop
of young Girls on the Run, their feet
plodding, skipping, dashing, sprinting
to finish the 5K, all I can think about is
the dull ache in my knee
the beer that I’m definitely drinking
as soon as this race is over.
There comes a time in a woman’s life
when she understands her body will fail her.
The gray hair at the temples
and cracking ankles are minor infractions.
I am less willing to forgive the heart
that fell in love with a foolhardy abusive man
the womb that so readily gave life
to an unwanted child
the eyes that even after surgery
require constant repositioning of documents
to maintain focus and clarity.
It doesn’t seem to matter
whether I treat this body lavishly
or recklessly
both kale salad and hot dogs cause flab
that spills over the rims of pants
I attempt to cover with an oversized T-shirt.
I try to bargain with her: I’ll take the soft fat
if I’m spared the doubling-over
from burst ovarian cysts.
But she has the ultimate poker-face
she doesn’t play fair.
In a month, I’ll find another lump in my breast
don the heavy lead apron to block radiation
hold my breath
while I’m squished between cold plastic plates.
Pray that the biopsy
will let me continue to skate by.
Because I don’t know how to make this body better
I sit up nights
wash in the antiseptic coolness of gin
sweat dripping down the stem of a martini glass.
I’m convinced my mind wants this escape
that my body doesn’t crave it, require it.
At what point does the body submit the mind?
I don’t want to lose my mind
but it’s just matter, victim to the failures of the flesh
aneurysms, tumors, or the more sinister elements
that lead to the forgetting.
I need to remember the little girl in me
the one who posed in her toddler bikini
so many summers ago, the frizzy mop of hair
the chubby jutting belly, the hands on her hips.
She urges me to accept the flesh
to cross the finish line.

Christine Taylor identifies as multiracial and is an English teacher and librarian residing in her hometown Plainfield, New Jersey.   She is the EIC of Kissing Dynamite: A Journal of Poetry and the author of The Queen City (Broken Sleep Books, 2019).   Christine has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize, and her work appears in Glass, Turtle Island Responds, Haibun Today, and The Rumpus among others.  Right now, she’s probably covered in cat hair and drinking a martini.   Visit her at