First grade gym class, or How to jump out of a plane…

I always hated parachute day.
The slippery, yet sticky feel of
that slick material clutched
in my fingers, as six year old me,
clod in my blue, hand me down,
Scooby Do sneakers, skipped
in a circle, listening to the thick
breathing and beating feet
of my schoolmates.

I didn’t like them either.
Not their steps pounding on the gym floor,
nor their shrill happiness at this ritual,
as if, running around and around
with this stinking, old parachute,
was the biggest treat they could
conjure up in their unformed minds.

Three laps to the left, the teacher yelling, “shift!”
and three laps to the right. I was not a joiner.
And this was pack mentality at it’s very worst.
Still, it was not nearly as bad as that moment,
when it all spun out of control, and we were
ordered to run to the center, pulling that
damned, sweating, moth ball infested thing
over our heads. Everyone laughing like idiots,
and me, trying to keep my retching to a minimum.

Me. Scrawny and pale, and full of wild ideas.
Should I trip and set the whole thing off
as one would a row of dominoes? Children
bumping against each other and plopping
to their shiny faces, in a neat little row?
Should I stop clenching my insides that are barely
keeping my lunch down deep in my stomach,
and really give them something to scream about?
Should I just stop, cease all motion, and declare,
“enough is enough, get this rancid thing off of me?”

Being with you, is like that parachute. Something, I am
told I should enjoy, would enjoy, yet nauseates me
in this dark, alluring way, that on one hand, makes me
feel like the biggest keeper of secrets, and on the other
a victim of the cruelest of jokes. Where I am compelled
by the very thing that repels me. Yet, I drape it over my head,
time and time again, and try to remember to breathe…



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