Falling Lesson

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.)