“Coming Down Hard” by Julie Knight

Julie Knight


Pink tutu and pink tights
and me with my fat ass
all squeezed in tight like a pimple—
and those tap shoes
black and noisy, black and loud
loud enough to tap over my mother’s
you’ll-never-be-good-enough looks.
I banged those shoes down hard
on the kitchen floor
making crescent moons in the linoleum.
That Saturday comes and
I’ve got that tutu pulled on tight
and I’m up on that stage—
about a dozen second graders
up on that stage—
all of us on top of our own
round boxes painted like drums.
Everybody’s going right and I’m going left
and I don’t care.
All I ever wanted was those pink tights
pink leotard
that tutu pink with sequins
and those shoes—
black shiny leather with a strap
a gold buckle, and taps on the bottom—
like bullets in a loaded gun
nailed on to the heel and toe.
Me up on that stage smiling and going left
with my Mom and Dad in the front row.
I’m coming down hard
heel toe heel toe
keeping time by whispering
under my breath
bang bang you’re dead.

from Rattle #1, 1995

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