Annaliese Wagner is a student at Stephen F. Austin State University. She has published her poetry in HUMID and The Blue Route, and has published fiction in Far Enough East.
How to Jump Rope
1) Start with the rhyme she liked to sing Miss Mary Mac, Mac, Mac. Bring the rope around and start jumping all dressed in black, black, black. Feel your sneakers smack the concrete. Close your eyes with silver buttons, buttons, buttons.
2) Remember to keep saying the rhyme. Squeeze your eyes shut. The pavement is hard.
3) Remember the pavement. Remember to close your eyes. Keep rhyming. Remember that today you went to the hospital and there were tubes in the veins of her hand, in the insides of her elbows, in her nose, down her throat all down her back, back, back. The pavement is hard. You want to hit your sister. Your sister is a bad word you can’t say. Say the bad word. Say her rhyme she asked her mother, mother, mother.
4) Your sister is beautiful. She took lots of pills. She is in a coma. She is not your sister. She is the bad word you said. She does not love you. Feel your knees ache. Feel your breath catch in your lungs as you chant her rhyme for fifty cents, cents, cents.
5) Remember you wanted to hide behind your father. She took a lot of pills and they were blue and white and orange and they mixed in her belly and they got into her brain and now there are so many tubes to see the elephant, elephant, elephant. Your knees ache and you can’t keep your eyes closed anymore because keeping your eyes closed doesn’t make any difference because you still see the tubes anyway and you are breathless but you keep chanting jump over the fence, fence, fence.