Kat Dixon

Fight Between Friends

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HALF TOOTH

By Kat Dixon

Robin redheaded on the hardwood, that open-ribbed, and the big room as it would, keeping all the noise, just let any buzzer ring to end other buzzers. How it was was a girl big as a man. Girl big as a man shined at the skin forever and too many elbows pinned to her like felt arms for a Halloween spider, fishing line letting them swing in the night. I don’t mean she could be caught. I mean the ball could have gone anywhere, out the door or anywhere, and she could have a hand on it and make it invisible again.

What it was was that her mother had opened another mother with a bullet in the parking lot outside the gymnasium last season, and, look, she had the blood of two mothers in her now. We drove so long out into the disappearing light to see it.

*

Faces half red with lipstick, the other girls pulled up their shirts to show the long, flat bones that might be breasts one day, the bones and bones. I shook my head. The other girls pulled up their shirts. Robin redheaded went back-flat against the carpet, coach’s basement, nippled like a dare. I shook my head. How it was was if a girl could take a punch to the chest and then another punch to the chest and then maybe a year of punches to the chest, the sore, red places might become great, full, beautiful breasts, building-sized breasts, dazzle-lit breasts before any un-bruised virgin might know to grow them. I shook my head. The other girls went back-flat against the carpet, coach’s basement, ready to be made women, having taken their turns at clumsy, pink punches, pulled up their shirts.

*

Great, hollow room dark with mold smell, even ragged fabric for a basket, even the ball, Robin redheaded with one loose elbow where her tongue might talk, girl went right down to the floor. Robin down-down right to the floor, one half tooth came cracked, open-egged, redheaded, girl big as a man, one laced shoe, hard elbow to the cheek and then down. I don’t mean the tooth made a sound. I mean the blood was there so that we might know what’d been broken.

What it was was a girl big as a man, blood of two mothers in her, the power she had to bring anyone back to the floor. I shook my head. One left front tooth, half still bloody in the gum, half down, angry, on the floor and Robin down redheaded like she’d meant to be, all the surprising blood, coach and everyone went down feet hands knees down to the floor like a contest in the buzzer sound to find the tooth chunk, red fruit now, in the shined-sweat, jagged places in the floor, everyone down. I shook my head.

*

How it was was a man big as a dark room, my father, never dull-fisted, not when sleeping or sober, not when he’d already put my soft, round skull or shoulder into the fluffed, inside belly of a wall. Hot white day one suited woman small as any bad mother hung a notice on the front door – Department of Family and Child Services finds no unnecessary violence in this house, go on loving each other as you will – I put my teeth in his skin. Anyway, I’d lost all my teeth before and made new ones; I wasn’t afraid of how dying might be different than that.

Ready to be made women, no bones left but need to pull you jagged at the throat down the throat the throat out of the throat I put my teeth in his skin. Let any buzzer ring. He shook his wild head. Too many arms pinned to him, fishing line for a Halloween spider, great-dark room, I went back-flat against the carpet. Right hand front, one elbow, no shoe laced, ball made invisible again, hollow with mold smell, girl went right on down. How it was was right hand front, small as last words, coming cracked, open-egged, no sound to it, finger bones bent for open ribs, no lipstick to know what’d been broken, no blood. I opened my hand. Breasts coming in like a contest, like a dare, great, full, beautiful breasts, bone chunks spread out where a hand might talk, no fist to be made, out the door or anywhere, any un-bruised virgin, can you hear the buzzer? We drove so long out to hear it. Ready to be made one woman, I opened my crooked hand.

*

I don’t mean I could be caught. I mean I shook my wild head. I mean a girl big as a man and my two hands meant to disappear the light. Robin redheaded on the hardwood, catching blood, pulled up her shirt. What it was was everyone down, the other girls, coach and everyone, half tooth missing, the bones and bones, one girl with too many elbows pinned to her, blood of all mothers, my one cracked two hands. I shook my wild head.

Dazzle-lit, building-sized girl, gymnasium’s last season, angry like I’d meant to be, hot white mold smell, buzzers ringing, I opened another girl with my hands. Go on loving each other as you will. How it was was that her first eye went away and in going away got bigger and then, with clumsy, pink punches, the second, sore and red. Everyone down-down now, two bad broken hands, ball gone anywhere, out the door, a year of punches to the chest, so long out, girl big as a man, girl big as anything, let me show you how to make a fist.

Look, I’m bringing you back to the floor. Having taken their turns, the other girls, down on the floor, shined-sweat, jagged places, came up again, mouths full of teeth, long, flat bones, ragged fabric, big room, keeping all the noise. Another punch to back-flat, they’d pulled up a tooth out of the floorboards, one half tooth, made invisible, small as last words. Robin redheaded on the hardwood, face half red like lipstick, bloody in the gum where her tongue might talk, ready to be made one woman, shirt pulled up and down again, made a buzzer sound. She opened her hand.

Kat Dixon is the author of the poetry collection TEMPORARY YES (Artistically Declined Press 2012), the forthcoming novella HERE/OTHER, and four chapbooks. She lives in Atlanta and online at www.isthiskatdixon.com.

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