A Red Tricycle in the Belly of the Pool

the live oak over the nursery got a disease
they could only save one limb
it wasn’t surprising; it wasn’t that kind of nursery
a girl rode her red tricycle around the bottom of the pool
the pool had no water; it hadn’t rained
the girl kept smelling her hand
it smelled like honeywheat, or the inside of a girl’s panties
someone said, race you
she nodded okay and pedaled like hell
after three laps no one had passed her
she looked over her shoulder, lost her balance
ripped her hands & knees on the blue concrete
the one limb on the live oak curved like a question
would she need stitches again
there was already ink under her skin & iodine on her tongue
or was it the other way around
she could see black thread bunching
sewing centipedes under her skin
her throat burned and she couldn’t move her legs
it wasn’t a tricycle
it was something she couldn’t get her foot out from under
she hated to stop or lose her shoe and, I’m sorry
the pool was full of water

Karyna McGlynn, "A Red Tricycle in the Belly of the Pool" from I Have to Go Back to 1994 and Kill a Girl. Copyright © 2009 by Karyna McGlynn.  Reprinted by permission of Sarabande Books, Inc. www.sarabandebooks.org
Source: I Have to Go Back to 1994 and Kill a Girl (Sarabande Books, 2009)