“I bear the awful lightness of her small body, her pale straight nape …”

 

13 MONTHS

She is strapped to me

and we chant in rhythm

with my steps as we walk.

On a windy day we swing

our arms out to feel it,

and she laughs and calls

her sound for wind. Her fine

hair flutters. Huge cars speed

past tossing red leaves. I carry

an umbrella to keep off the sun.

There is no greater weight

than hers. It grows each day

as I lift her accumulating life.

When I think ahead to the sound

of her voice at five, the sift

of red hair on her cheek at seven,

her curved waist at fifteen,

my arm trembles beneath her.

Those children fade into dust

beneath my galloping terror.

I wear the sharp bridle

of the present, look only

at the lithe grass of her smile.

I bear the awful lightness

of her small body, her pale

straight nape, her hands

cut by sunlight, turning

and turning a blue wooden wheel.

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Lea Marshall, Associate Chair of the dance department at Virginia Commonwealth University’s School of the Arts, meshes her creativity in the fields of both dance and creative writing. With a BA in English from the University of Virginia and an MFA in Creative Writing – Poetry from VCU, Marshall’s writing has appeared in Thrush, Unsplendid, Delware Poetry Review, and a myriad of other literary publications. Along with her career in dance and arts administration, Marshall is also a freelance writer for Dance Magazine, Dance Teacher, Pointe, and is a dance critic for Richmond-based arts and culture publication Style Weekly. Marshall is a two-time contributor to Broad Street,  featured in both “Dangerous Territory” and “Bedeviled.”

“13 Months” debuted in our “Dangerous Territory” issue. Read an interview with Lea about poetry, dance, and the fine art of telling the truth here.

True stories, honestly.