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Fierce Girl Playing Hopscotch

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You sway like a crane to the tunes of tossed stones.
I am what you made to live in
from what you had: hair matted as kelp, bad schools.

Oh, you will never know me. I wave and you go
on playing in the clouds
boys clap from erasers. I am the pebble
you tossed on the chalked space and war-
danced toward, one-leg two-leg, arms treading air.

In this, your future, waves rechristen the sea
after its tiny jeweled lives
that hiss “Us Us” to the shore all day.
Where’s the kid called Kateydid? the moonfaced
Kewpiedoll? The excitable pouting
Zookie? The somber O-Be-Joyful?

Lost girl, playing hopscotch, I will do what you could.
Name of father, son, ghost. Cross my heart and hope.
While the sea’s jewels build shells and shells
change to chalk and chalk to loam and gold
wheat grows where oceans teetered.

Used by permission of the author.
Source: Palladium (1986)

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This poem originally appeared in the March 1985 issue of Poetry magazine

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Fierce Girl Playing Hopscotch

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