Stitch up your skates. You must trust them
without thinking twice. Breathe in the stink
of your sweat-fried padding & give thanks
for the way it holds your bones intact.
Hit the rink. If your wheels strike the tile
with the clean sound of a well-greased cog
whirring in a machine, set your breath to it.
Ball your hands into fists. Once, Bunny fell
with her fingers out & they were smashed
like soft roots under another girl’s wheels.
Let that image haunt you as you quicken
your pace, bend your knees, raise your chin
& pitch yourself forward. After the thirtieth
or thirty-first fall, the instinct to flinch
will have been pounded out of your nerves.
Smack down one knee & elbow & wrist
at a time till you’re bellied against the cold
& scratched floor. In the arc of your tumble
was a flicker of the peace you’ve spent
half your life seeking. It’s what to call on
now you’re down & stinging, what sets you
flailing like a shored fish. Hitch your knees
to your chest & fumble upward. Don’t stop
to swat the rosin powder from your legs
or the string of spit from your bottom lip.
Hurtle on. Allow yourself to feel weightless
& relish how well you dart down the track,
easy as a Jesus lizard—before the next bend
when you’re again obliged to give the body
its blast of gravity, the stomach lurch of grace.
Words By Vi
(Vi is currently working on a chapbook of roller derby poems.
“Falling Lesson” was originally published in Fourth & Sycamore.)