"Mrs. P." by Jane Rosenberg LaForge

Art by Lily Bell

Mrs. P.

I had a crush on my PE teacher,

the one who looked like a revolutionary,

the recent zealot most wanted in America

for switching sides before law men

could finish her story. That could

happen to you as a girl: if not violent

abduction, then a kind of disappearing,

wiped away, swept under, ceasing

to matter like so many shavings

in a pool of static water, from where

you ran a food program in the

seedier territories. But I kept watch

for her, through the windows of

the school bus and through the body

suit and wrap-around skirt of the

PE teacher, and when she demonstrated

calisthenics meant to usher us out

of Darwinian childhoods and into

adolescence, I witnessed the vigil

razor burn kept over what it could

not remove, so intriguing compared

to my mother’s snappy, almost muscular

curls that positively frightened me.

I needed an alternative with Morse

and Braille opportunities, dispatched

by patent, another male invention:

a miraculous cure that dissolved

the bonds between women and girlhood,

through the power of foam and chemicals

applied to the dead in their last act

of hygiene. A boy smeared a dollop

on the back of my head as though

copping a feel one Halloween,

because that’s what boys did then

to get your attention, to get you

to scream; they marked you so

you’d have this distinguishing

feature, you’d be easy to spot,

stunned and bald like when they

were young, toddling and breast feeding.

Jane Rosenberg LaForge's most recent full-length poetry collection is "Daphne and Her Discontents" from Ravenna Press. Her forthcoming novel is "The Hawkman: A Fairy Tale of the Great War," from Amberjack Publishing.

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