“At First” by Emily Pérez

At First

by Emily Pérez

Like that like that I managed only
tit for tat, the smallest scraps of

            satisfaction, gut reactions. Like sails
            I got high and loose. I got strung up
and got strung out. Like lightning
I used up my fighting words in one
            tremendous bang. I rang the boxer’s
            bell, I tried so hard to self-contain
remain intact, not to yell or blow.
I snapped. I set fire then set out.
            I wailed through my solo then collapsed,
            a diva on the stage, carrying on, carried
off and then away, I used my rage
to my advantage, set my gaze toward
            open seas. I tipped my hat, I took
            my leave, made tracks, broke free.

Emily Pérez is the author of House of Sugar, House of Stone and Backyard Migration Route. She earned an MFA at the University of Houston, where she served as a poetry editor for Gulf Coast and taught with Writers in the Schools. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in journals including POETRY, Diode, Bennington Review, Crab Orchard Review, Borderlands, and DIAGRAM. She teaches English and Gender Studies in Denver where she lives with her husband and sons.