Monkey in the Middle This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

May 1, 2010
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I remember playing Monkey in the Middle
in second grade
in my blue bathing suit with the flowers on it.
I remember jumping, lots of jumping,
but no catching; mostly just missing.
Swim lessons, twice a week every summer since I was four, failed me,
and I swam,
skinny arms flailing,
always-tangled hair behind me
but my friends always beat me.
Apparently these things are “just games”
so we could smile great big smiles
with the gap between our two front teeth
even though I knew that I couldn’t win
the prize of a purple rubber ball,
ninety-nine cents at Kmart;
it’s a miracle it never popped.

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