Kathleen Kirk is the poetry editor for Escape Into Life. She is the author of five previous poetry chapbooks, including Interior Sculpture: poems in the voice of Camille Claudel (Dancing Girl Press, 2014), commissioned by Columbus Dance Theatre for the world premier of Claudel. Kirk’s poems and stories appear in many print and online journals, including Arsenic Lobster, Confrontation, Eclectica, Menacing Hedge, Nimrod, Poetry East, Puerto del Sol, RHINO, Quarter After Eight, and Waccamaw.
From ABCs of Women's Work
How to Jump Through Hoops
First, become a tiger.
Yes, tooth and claw but also the natural striping.
Next, imagine the fire.
It’s just a circle now, a series of circles,
one after the other, and looks harmless.
Walk daily around the cage
to develop your haunches.
Sleep heavily. Eat what you are given.
Ignore the jibes of the children,
the roustabouts, the crowds
with their red-and-white striped boxes.
Trust your own coloring.
Circle the ring quickly,
hearing the whip snap in the air
beside you. It won’t touch you.
If it does, bite off the hand that holds it.
You know the hoops now,
where they stand, in what order.
Find the still point of each
and touch it with the swift air
of your absence.
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