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We love roller girl
in her tatted fishnets
and red satin shorts
We love roller girl
when she’s jamming
her thighs drum taut
her fists pumping and driving

We love roller girl
when pushed to the edge
of our seats and her shoulders
are the condor’s, hunched and muscled
then smooth as sails the instant before
she takes that whip from the wall

We love roller girl
in that electrifying flight
And after the jams we shoulder and shove
hoping for a swatch of her sweaty jersey
or a flourish from her pen on our program

“We love you roller girl!” we shout as she waves
kisses and winks and peace outs
declining invitations to beers.
We love roller girl, we say, still exhilarated
and swept away with the crowd
and the blockers

We love her, and we toast the win
as we replay her plays that led us to victory
but we don’t see her heave her quads
over her shoulder and pivot on threaded sneakers
to a place we don’t

love her. On the other side
of Orchard Street, past McDonnell’s Hots
under the iron railroad trestle
to a playground overgrown with candy wrappers
and broken swings. She settles
on the stair side of the slide
where Gena once loved Tony
with a pocket knife.

She sticks an unlit nickel cigar in the side
of her mouth, opens
a copy of Boo Hoo Bird on her knees
and waits for a different show
that begins at ten o’clock
in a house nestled back
in a conspiracy of pine.

The picture window lights
and the young man’s t-shirt is always
white and rippling around his hips
while the toddler he shoulders
plays bongos with pudgy hands on his head.
He grabs the remote and points
and the two of them are dappled
in carousel dreams.

She sits forward then, holding her breath
like a thumb on the pause button.
Her torn hands flatten across the open book
as father and son sit on the couch
and he snuggles the toddler in his lap,
a kanga and his roo.
And when he tenders the fine toddler hair
with his lips, her lips tighten and she squeezes
Boo Hoo Bird to her
someday

until he switches the TV off
and then the light
and then the light
inside her

We love roller girl
under the bright white lights
when her hips roll the bank
her lips set like a warrior’s
and she soars like the condor.
So, she made a mistake.
At the morning meeting she’ll have coffee
before she punches in at the hardware store
where he never needs a bolt or a screw
brandishing the stroller past

but she knows this is one whip
she will make with her own hip.

© Stanley Anne Zane Latham 2013

*****

A veritable roller-coaster of emotions, Stanley Anne Zane Latham’s poem “Roller Girl” peels back the veneer of success and adulation to reveal broken pieces of a life filled with agony, loss and despair. A poignant, deep and multi-layered story which starts with a heady mix of emotion and words, and steadily starts to break down both symbolically and semantically, until all we are left with is a kind of emptiness, and a view of a cracked soul through a broken piece of glass.

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