Boxer

by Kim Moore


Boxer

If I could make it happen backwards

so you could start again I would,

beginning with you on the floor,

the doctor in slow motion

reversing from the ring, the screams

of the crowd pulled back in their throats,

your coach, arms outstretched, retreats

to the corner as men get down from chairs

and tables, and you rise again, so tall,

standing in that stillness in the seconds

before you fell, and the other girl, the fighter,

watch her arm move around and away

from your jaw, and your mother rises

from her knees, her hands still shaking,

as the second round unravels itself

and instead of moving forward,

as your little Irish coach told you to,

you move away, back into the corner,

where he takes your mouth guard out

as gently as if you were his own.

The water flies like magic from your mouth

and back into the bottle and the first round

is in reverse, your punches unrolling

to the start of the fight, when the sound

of the bell this time will stop you dancing

as you meet in the middle, where you come

and touch gloves and whisper good luck

and you dance to your corners again,

your eyes fixed on each other as the song

you chose to walk into sings itself back

to its opening chords and your coach

unwraps your head from the headguard,

unfastens your gloves, and you’re out

of the ring, with your groin guard,

your breast protector, you’re striding

round that room full of men,

a warrior even before you went in. 

© Kim Moore