fear was: bleeding through the pad, being picked last, taking off my shoes, weigh in with a clueless nurse, repeat of the dodge ball to the gut or running
the mile, boobs too small (others) or so big (me) running gave black eyes & back aches, removing summer’s last sun-in streaks mid-October with hair dye too dark, repeat
of English teacher asking if anything’s wrong, repeat of the visit to the therapist’s office, running through the list of reasons why black hair isn’t a last
cry for help: last line repeated to anyone who listened: I’m always running
When I Was a Girl VIII
fashion was: anything slimming, vertical stripes, black, but nothing exactly like a skinny girl’s because of the inevitable comparisons. puffy paint, jackets laced with novelty pins.
pegged jeans, jeans pegged tight with a safety pin so no bending over to fix the cuffs & showing my butt. then sports team shirts, British Knights, Bugle Boy & inevitable
androgyny of same. baggy & boyish inevitably hid what everyone else showed. the anti-pin- -up. & just in case, sweaters long enough to cover my butt.
fashion makes the woman, but inevitably girls like me are pinned, stuck between butch & a soft place.
Post Miscarriage: Day 41
I didn’t wash my hair today so it’s up in a ponytail. In another poem, boys grabbed my ponytails, pre-doggie style. There’s nothing more girlish than a ponytail. There’s nothing less ladylike, or more fun, than doggie style. When I sleep, I wear no bra & hair in a ponytail. Sex isn’t the same since. Even when it’s doggie style.
My back fat jiggles when we do it doggy style. You can only see my grays in a ponytail. You’d think that alone would keep me from my ponytail. Even before, I rarely slept after, because I can’t come doggie style. You’d think that alone would keep me from doggie style. My husband was instructed early on: Don’t pull the ponytail.
Don’t push my head down to your crotch, ponytail or not. But sometimes, it’s all I want: doggie style with my ass in the air, doggie style with a pillow clutched in my fists, ponytail pulled taut. Lately, it’s not what I want: doggie style or any way at all. At night, I still do the ponytail,
but I haven’t slept in over two weeks. I use the ponytail to keep myself presentable in case I don’t shower. A ponytail does that. I wish a ponytail could make me want doggie style. I want to want it doggie style. I wish it could do more, my ponytail. I wish I couldn’t get pregnant doggie style.
We have to wait for one more cycle before it can be doggie style sans condom. I will worry my pretty little ponytail, because I’m starting to think I don’t want a life of ponytails & baby dolls, ponytails & birthday parties, ponytails & anything. I don’t want to have to explain doggie style to anyone who has to ask “What’s doggie style?”
How would I even explain doggie style? When two people love each other very much, doggie style is a beautiful thing. When two people want it dirty, doggie style is an easy way to be a lil bit dirty. Your ponytail is crooked, honey, let me fix your ponytail. That’s better, go show your Daddy your ponytail.
Doggie style is on my mind; like a school girl, I twirl my ponytail. I imagine doggy style, his hand on my hip, his hand pulling my ponytail. Imagine doggy style is all I do. I’m disconnected. I fix my ponytail.
-- Jennifer Jackson Berry works as a claims adjuster for a mass transit bus line in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. She holds degrees from the University of Pittsburgh and Indiana University’s MFA program. Her poetry has recently appeared in SOFTBLOW, The Chaffey Review, and is forthcoming in Saudade Review.