Twirler

Joan McBride

When we were in high school
we use to laugh and shake our heads over
the Majorette, the gal in our grade
who loved to twirl a baton.
Oh, she would pirouette and plié
with the best of them. High kicks
strutting across the field, she dazzled
in her saggy-crotch costume.

In the twirling world,
it is fair to say she was advanced.
Her pretty feet articulated,
toes pointed.  Her baton rolls
were flawless and followed a proper
path across her body.  She was
kinetic art without the need
for wind propulsion.

Learning to juggle the basics,
relying on peripheral vision
and an ever confident toss, Miss Majorette
didn’t notice that she was
ignored in the school halls
and shunned in study hall despite
her arabesques, and straddle leaps
that took her far beyond the teenage angst
of pimply skin and our homes steeped
in alcohol and tragedy.

She always
caught what she threw—
she wasn’t concussed by her actions.
things came back to her gently—
having flashed her baton into the bedazzled ether.

I remember on game night
before the whistle blew—
while the rest of us were
trying to find seats in the bleachers—
she was the one that led the team
onto the field, her baton on fire
and spinning toward the moon.