Goretti Girls get their man, Oct. 2003

Every day, for weeks, we’d seen
pink heritable flesh, a shock
of sickly invertebrate underbelly extended,
engorged. The fat meat turned uglier
and redder by the second, fevered, swelling—
an unwanted inheritance come too early,
a sight we neither asked for nor wanted,
not yet. Me and the other girls trooped down
from St. Maria Goretti, down in South Philly,
wearing modest knee-length plaid
and starchy white shirts, suspicious and tense.
We kept together on the walk home from school,
schools of nervous trout avoiding
an ugly red worm—bait—from a crooked hook.
Yesterday, though, sick of the taunt, the show
and the fear, we became fearless. We moved
together when we spotted him—not away,
but closer. Kell dropped her bag like it was full
of heavy sea-stones and sped toward him,
little legs pumping under ugly grey-patterned
war skirt, to deliver the first blow, a firm kick.
Red algae bloomed where her foot landed.
The nasty worm shrank and receded to useless
pulpy flaccidity, like an empty sock. Me and the girls
kept kicking, 'cause we really wanted him to know
how much we never wanted to see what he offered.
Fish move together since they know 
that to present a united front is wise. It’s better
for the whole group. It’s easier to defend
when there’s lots of you. It’s easier to attack, too. 

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