The house’s windows are covered

by newspapers, sheets, a Mickey Mouse

pillowcase. It longs to be unbandaged.


The fence with metal diamonds digs

against our bellies, our uniforms splotched

by rust as we balance away from the jump ropes


and dodge balls. The women approach men

in their cars, squat in scalloped tank tops.

What they whisper in the chambers of their ears


is so important, it draws them to enter the yawn

of that house, not even glance at us pressed

against the railing. Teachers disrupt our thoughts


with whistle blows, and we spring away

like tree frogs, heads full of an alphabet

we can’t sequence. We know men will follow us


someday if we ask

the right question, that our torsos will lengthen,

and our feet will arch higher. That this school


with its dreary chalked stories will disappear

like the dust particles rising from the erasers

we pound hard against the wall.


Jill Bergkamp has most recently been published in Rattle, Sugar House Review, and Gargoyle.

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