collection of poems, A Day in Boyland
, was a finalist for the Colorado Book Award.
Her latest book is Injecting Dreams into Cows
(Red Hen Press, 2012). Visit her website
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The Wave of Pantsing
The wave of pantsing swept down the hall,
flooding the small spaces between lockers,
the thin cracks in the concrete floor.
Boys ran, clutched waistbands,
squatted defensively. They knew.
They understood the power of pantsing.
Girls were automatically safe. They had
other terrors. The wave of pantsing was only
a wavelength of light, for them. It didn’t hurt.
It wasn't the first wave. Others had brought
the school to its knees. Chinese jump rope.
Friendship pins. Folded paper that told the future,
or told who you really were, or whom
you really loved. We foretold riches or misery
based on a code of letters and numbers.
But no one could have predicted, shack
or mansion, the pantsing. The pants
brought low. Not removed—no—that
would be too dignified. Michelangelo’s David
wore no pants, and he looked good. But never
has sculptor—nor, for that matter, poet—
attempted this impossibility, to surf atop
the wave of pantsing and not land rough,
neither pantser nor pantsed, aloof, above.
But what is he thinking, the person being pantsed?
Let it end? Am I zitted? How long must this go on?
The humiliation: he finds himself praying, age thirteen,
entering an unreal world. But what
does he pray? He doesn’t even know.
That his closed eyes will protect him.
That twenty years from now no one standing, staring,
will remember. But he will remember. He doesn’t think
to pray that he won’t.
Was the wave one-time, or will it repeat?
Is pantsing still a word? Maybe this is why
we have children: to put them through it, to find out.