Angela Sorby

Our Bodies Ourselves
September 22, 2023 Sorby Angela

Our Bodies Ourselves


No one would sit by Vicky Syme
whose tongue was too pointy,
but Matthew Haggerty’s ringworm


was so cool we tried to catch it
by pressing our arms on his arm.
The ringworm wouldn’t spread.


It buried its tail in its head.
I was messier than Joe Pitsner,
the messiest boy, so the teacher


dumped my desk: spelling tests,
a hairbrush full of hair,  
pencil sharpener shavings,


flat Camp Fire mints.
Teresa Chu said Gross.
Everyone watched me clean up.


My face burned, but I knew
this is me, this will always be me,
the way tongue was Vickie Syme,


and ringworm Matthew Haggerty.
A poster tacked up behind
the teacher’s desk


said you can be anything
in cursive writing
as a seagull flew into the sun,


but second grade was almost over,
and the teacher was so fat
her nylons rubbed when she walked,


making a noise like crickets.
The crickets settled into the teacher.
Their song was her true song.


Angela Sorby’s books include Distance Learning (New Issues); Schoolroom Poets (UPNE); Bird Skin Coat (U of Wisconsin); and The Sleeve Waves (U of Wisconsin). Her past awards include the Brittingham Prize, the Felix Pollak Prize, Discovery/The Nation, and a Midwest Book Award.  Originally from Seattle, she is now a professor of English and Creative Writing at Marquette University in Milwaukee.