We Run


From The Kenyon Review:

I have often been told that I look like my mother: pale-skinned, tight-lipped, small-breasted, with legs as long as the Mississippi. Our looks are unremarkable, except for our legs, so we put them to good use. We run—past the warehouses with the windows punched out, the cemetery with the wings of the stone angels above the walls, the man in the beatup car, don’t run here, white girl. I run ahead of my mother, alone in the floodlights on the track. My toenails go missing as often as socks from the dryer, and the muscle peels away from my shin bone like a layer of paint. I develop a stress fracture, my legs taped like a horse’s. I vomit, pass out, come to. But I keep running. I learn to distance myself from the pain, or to deny it altogether, by repeating the multiplication table, and this makes me fast and skilled at arithmetic, but very much alone.

“Distance: a definition”, A. L. Baumgartner, The Kenyon Review