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Corrinne Clegg Hales

Corrinne Clegg Hales

Corrinne Clegg Hales is the author of two chapbooks and two full-length poetry collections, most recently Separate Escapes (2002), winner of the Richard Snyder Poetry Prize from Ashland Poetry Press. She lives in Fresno, California, where she coordinates the M.F.A. program at California State University, Fresno.


Crouched low in a dank pool
of rage, I waited behind
the wooden fence until she walked
through the gate. She was
bigger than me, but slower,
and I sprang up, slamming
deep into her belly with both fists,
over and over with more force
than I believed my body
could produce. She collapsed, hard
and heavy as a wet pair of jeans

might drop from a clothesline, but she didn't
look angry or afraid. She stared at me
with what seemed like awe
before she stopped falling and began
to cry—not loudly, as I expected—
but softly, almost weeping, sitting there
in a pale clump of her mother's
spent daffodils, arms wrapped
around her knees. I could hear
a dog barking in the yard
next door, and someone's car
starting, as if nothing had happened,
and I just stood there, hands hanging
stupidly above her, trembling
with what should have been
shame, wanting her to stand,
to strike back, to make it right.


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