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Rock Just Right

She knew he liked Kentucky
And robins perched on picket fences
Vanilla pudding pie
as a centerpiece
The word “incorrigible”.
And zydeco.
Zydeco on Monday nights
on solid oak floors
with seventeen layers of silky wax.
Shotgun house on the corner
with no windows
or a place to rinse your hands
if one of the women brought
lemon cake or homemade brittle
No dancing—
for real or practice—
until the circle was made
Sweaty palms in both your hands
The church girls reading
The Gospel
according to Luke

Her legs—bare, but prickly,
Yet feminine still
Kicking and making their own little beat
The headscarf that mama gave
Hadn’t worn it in three years
Red, white, and blue flowers
making her kinky hair
feel independent

And rocking
And rocking.
Like the sun
would stop shining
If she didn’t rock just right.
Like the snag-a-tooth girls next door
With the rusty pink bicycles
and high-pitched laughter
Would be called inside
Would quit smiling.
Like the power lines—
those power lines
Big and black and thick and zig-zagged
No wonder the lights couldn’t stay on
For any length of time—
Like the power lines would snap
In two
Snap in two and send the robins
Flapping off into the grey background
Flying off.
Like Joe would come back
With his hat
And his oil-stained overalls
And prized belt buckle
Would come back
Would run back with his limp
His smile and limp
His wink
His apologies
If she didn’t rock just right.