Rope

Rope

The girl’s father laughs a little too hard
when I say: She knows what’s important in life
as his daughter whips the dime store jump rope
over her head for the twelve thousandth time—
laughs as if I’m joking, when really, she has it down—
sparkly pink handles grimy with effort,
her face obscured by her hair, shins thin and bruised,
socks down at the ankles. Abandoned
by the rest of the crowd, the concrete square
an archipelago, an alignment with rigor the others
cannot fathom, she moves with fierce persistence
into afternoon, the heft of the handles, smack of the
rope—
no Double Dutch, limbo, no communal game,
but this resolute definition of rhythm,
slatted bench shadows lengthening into space,
the other kids simply forgetting she’s there,
her solitary corner of the playground darkening
as the dinner hour approaches, while pigeons pause
on their branches, squirrels come down the trunk and
stop,
with rush hour beyond the fence, cars idling,
and the rope’s metronome, forgotten as breath,
weaving all the disparate energies of girl—
elation, fury, eagerness, song—
into one singular strand.

— Rynn Williams, author of Adonis Garage

This poem is offered as part of our October theme: Games

T. S. Poetry

Winner of the Prairie Schooner Book Prize in Poetry, Adonis Garage introduces a talent exquisitely keyed to the register of New York City’s pulse and to the heartbeat of the day. Raw and graphic, with a brash and beautiful voice, Rynn Williams’s poetry immerses us in disillusionment and desire and bears witness to the meaning of survival.
Judith Ortiz Cofer called Adonis Garage “a book of life written by someone who has lived honestly and passionately, and whose art has been mastered in order to bear witness and find meaning in each day.” Rynn Williams’s poems are “brutally frank, brutally beautiful, and sexy,” said writer and critic Jonathan Holden.
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