Kate Peper


Remember, never make friends
with the side of you that’s slow
on the uptake, may drop trays of succotash
and Salisbury steak on the lunchroom floor.
That’s the part of you to avoid, or snicker at,
like you did with friends in the cloakroom,
feeling queenly over the one girl
made entirely of slowness,
what Brian Kopcke called retarded.
Never nod or smile in recognition
at the part of you, like her, that trips
over words or walks alone.

If possible, stand above frailty
as you did in the covered walkway,
looking down on the playground
as she was thrown
onto the merry-go-round by the boy mob
and spun and spun, shirt ripped
as she tried to fly herself off
but was battered back.

All done in pantomime from your height,
enough of a dumb play to watch
and completely disown.