(for Ntozake Shange) I used to be a roller coaster girl 7 times in a row No vertigo in these skinny legs My lipstick bubblegum pink As my panther 10 speed. never kissed Nappy pigtails, no-brand gym shoes White lined yellow short-shorts Scratched up legs pedaling past borders of humus and baba ganoush Masjids and liquor stores City chicken, pepperoni bread and superman ice cream Cones. Yellow black blending with bits of Arabic Islam and Catholicism. My daddy was Jesus My mother was quiet Jayne Kennedy was worshipped by my brother Mark I don’t remember having my own bed before 12. Me and my sister Lisa shared. Sometimes all three Moore girls slept in the Queen. You grow up so close never close enough. I used to be a roller coaster girl Wild child full of flowers and ideas Useless crushes on polish boys in a school full of white girls. Future black swan singing Zeppelin, U2 and Rick Springfield Hoping to be Jessie’s Girl I could outrun my brothers and Everybody else to that reoccurring line I used to be a roller coaster girl Till you told me I was moving too fast Said my rush made your head spin My laughter hurt your ears A scream of happiness A whisper of freedom Pouring out my armpits Sweating up my neck You were always the scared one I kept my eyes open for the entire trip Right before the drop I would brace myself And let that force push my head back into That hard iron seat My arms nearly fell off a few times Still, I kept running back to the line When I was done Same way I kept running back to you I used to be a roller coaster girl I wasn’t scared of mountains or falling Hell, I looked forward to flying and dropping Off this earth and coming back to life every once in a while I found some peace in being out of control allowing my blood to race through my veins for 180 seconds I earned my sometime nicotine pull I buy my own damn drinks & the ocean Still calls my name when it feels my toes Near its shore. I still love roller coasters & you grew up to be Afraid of all girls who cld ride Fearlessly like me.
Copyright © 2019 by jessica Care moore. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on April 4, 2019, by the Academy of American Poets.