She is straddling the stone bench, knees splayed
at near-right angles, book and lunchbox spread
between the V of her skinny legs. Rings
of old mosquito bites circle her ankles
like the palest of tattoos; she scratches
the bites with her fork as she turns the page.
A boy on the opposite bench is staring,
straining for a glimpse of the scooped-out curve
of her inner thigh as it disappears into her shorts,
probably picturing the fine hairs rising daintily
underneath. I am staring too, as I hustle
my children past (we are late for class),
watching the way the sun hits her body
as she shifts and flips her hair over one shoulder,
momentarily chewing on her finger. I envy
her youth and her lanky body, but what
I really want is her unawareness, and a crack
at that solitude. At any moment she could rise
on those legs, slap her book shut
and walk smoothly away, without thought,
in any direction. She would never see
the kids, that slack-jawed boy, or I;
she would never know what she has left behind.
If you've any comments on her poem, Jennifer King would be pleased to hear from you.