For Kerry and Laura
The Weird Sisters transfer into fifth grade in April
and everyone knows that if they become friends
with anyone it will be with us. We are the girls
on the old jungle gym at recess, hanging sloth-like
from the unpainted parallel bars, wood chips in our hair,
splinters pricking our knees and thumbs, or clutched
together in the roots and dirt of the spindly little maple
behind the new playground where everyone else runs
and shrieks, both ignored and ignoring. We are weird girls
but they are the Weird Sisters and they could teach us a trick
or two. We size each other up in the middle of the empty
basketball blacktop, unrelated sisters facing unidentical
triplets, still dressed in uniforms from their old school.
One has a pocket full of burrs, another an earthworm
like a ring around her finger, the third a Magic Marker sigil
tattooed on her forearm. Everything we wear is a size
too big or an inch too short and picked out by our mothers.
We have always known that some things are fated
but not until now have we felt fate settle, the upside-down throb.
The Weird Sisters, hand in hand, stand with the knowledge
of what we will become, and other things too: the ugliness
of our cursive, every library book borrowed more than twice.
The chasing game we play, how it ends in nails and blood.
Speak, they say. Demand. We’ll answer. But we ask only
if they can climb chain link fence, if they have yet
been warned about the soccer field and the sixth grade boys.
We know the year will end soon, that there is risk
in taking favors or prophesy when some of us, surely,
must be destined wayward girls who will not return in the fall.
Elizabeth Kerper lives in Chicago. Her work has appeared in the Nancy Drew Anthology from Silver Birch Press, as well as in Eclectica, NEAT, Midwestern Gothic, and No Assholes Literary Magazine, where she is an associate editor.
Artwork: Laura Makabresku