“Thinking Again of that Lone Boxer” by Charlotte Pence

Charlotte Pence


practicing in Baltimore’s Herring Run Park.
He looked like he was floating over the fogged 
field. And maybe he was. City traffic stood 
beside him as he slipped and bobbed, countered 
and angled, practicing the art of when to back 
down, when to dodge, when to defend.
I’d just been thinking about all I’m losing
in this thing called motherhood
when he delivered a left hook that could’ve spun
that string of blue stars around anyone’s head.
I refuse to say he was a dancer, for he was 
what he always is. A man fighting in an empty field 
against himself. Still, as long as I remember that
taut curve of back ready to uncoil a punch, 
curve of head ready to receive a blow,
how can I not believe in the possibility of peace?

from Rattle #42, Winter 2013


Charlotte Pence: “I remember reading ‘Those Winter Sundays’ by Robert Hayden one afternoon when I was a freshmen in college. It was a warm day in March, and the heaters couldn’t be adjusted. So we were all wilting. And then we read that poem. I was transported to the cold of Hayden’s childhood. Not only was I stunned by the poem’s language, but I had never understood before that a poem could take me into another person’s memory. I decided then if that’s what poetry did, then I had to be a part of it.”

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