★ ★ ★ ★
Image by Jack Catterall
After a boy and his pack held me facedown in the snow
so I couldn’t breathe, I understood that a football field
was an expanse only crossable when streaked
with teenagers or rows of college players skipping sideways
and a grove of slim white birches with no visible humans
might as well be a pit of lava to tiptoe around.
I added an extra mile to my trip home from school
to avoid ambush, taking a route lined with moms
and driveways, but my feral feet
couldn’t stay away from forest trails and hilltops.
Walking alone on side streets, I learned
to repel attention by wrapping myself in a hooded yellow
slicker of disdain bright enough to burn their canine eyes,
and I never set forth without my shark daemon
gliding alongside me like an airship with teeth.
Sarah Carleton writes poetry, edits fiction, tutors English, plays the banjo, and makes her husband laugh in Tampa, Florida. Her poems have appeared in numerous publications, including Cider Press Review, Nimrod, Chattahoochee Review, Tar River Poetry, Crab Orchard Review, and New Ohio Review. Her first collection, Notes from the Girl Cave, was recently published by Kelsay Books.