So I'll bite my lip and bloody my knuckles

February 27, 2013
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I was eight years old
when my father brought me out to his garage
and introduced me to his well-loved punching bag
he always wanted boys
as most fathers do
but my mother gave him me
and my princess of a sister
it took him eight years to come to terms with this
finally he pulled me aside one day
and told me I was going to learn to fight like a man

One Two Three, One
One Two Three, One
3 rights and a left
hit the bag with the outside of your pinky
sharp exhales
control your breathing
keep your core tight
elbows high
find the rhythm
always hit the bag on the return
always on the return

I graduated to the big punching bag after only a short month working the speed bag
my father was proud
I was proud
I broke all the bones in my hands on that thing
but I'd just wrap them up and get back to it
the euphoria of landing a punch powerful enough to make that big boy swing
that's what drove me on

I got hooked on aggression
I played hockey
I boxed
but the day I joined the wrestling team
was probably the proudest moment of my little life
and my father's
wrestling was his sport
he went to every one of my matches and practices
I wrestled for four years
from ten to thirteen
and I was damn good
I made boys cry
I wrestled until those boys got tired of losing to a girl
I wrestled until someone called me a dyke
I held back tears as I made my way to the bathroom
with as much dignity as possible
I quit after that
still one of the biggest regrets I hold to this day
there's nothing more satisfying than beating up on a cocky little boy

my father was the first one to break my bones
now do not think poorly of him
learning to take a punch was one of the best lessons I've ever learned
everyone should know how to properly get their ass kicked
black eyes build character
we were out playing kick-ball in the yard one summer
and I remember he caught the ball in one hand
set it down gently in the grass
and turned and just looked at me
then he took three large strides in my direction
and told me to get in a fighting stance
arms up
fists balled
right foot forward
body slightly angled
muscles tight
on the tips of your toes
that's a common mistake made by inexperienced fighters
they've got the stance down
but they're not anticipating their opponents response
that was the mistake I made that afternoon
I looked ready
but my response time was sluggish
so in half a second my father lunged forward with a perfect right cross
and snapped my ulna in half as well as fracturing my radius in two places
I just stood there
my mouth open in a silent scream
my father drove me to the hospital that night
he asked if I was okay
that's when I understood what he was trying to teach me
I nodded my head
he smiled
we got ice cream on the way home
the fear of pain and loss will inevitably heed any forward progress
its those who embrace broken bones and ragged breathing that cross the finish line first

I do not start fights
I only end them
I will not scream and lash out with claws
pull hair or gnash teeth together
like other girls tend to
I do not care who you are
or how much bigger you are
if we fight
then I will hate you
but only for those few moments of combat
I fight with a cold, tight lipped stare
and a raging fire in my belly
my only goal is to do as much damage as possible
whether I win or lose
I will hurt you
you will respect all 115 pounds of me

My father always told me
'Fear nothing, Bridget
Cause only God can bring you to your knees'

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This article has 7 comments. Post your own now!

Malorie said...
Mar. 5, 2013 at 8:03 pm
I love this! One of the best I've read on the site, it's on my favorites :)
FearlessAngel said...
Mar. 5, 2013 at 10:37 am
I LOVE the last quote. The whole poem was wonderfully laid out. Amazing.
tayrobin said...
Mar. 5, 2013 at 3:56 am
This was an amazing piece of writing to read, congratulations! Definitely a favourite.
I8Grass This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Mar. 4, 2013 at 11:54 pm
Thank you all for your support and kind words, it means the world.
Skyela said...
Mar. 4, 2013 at 6:28 pm
Your a very talented wrighter
Hope.B said...
Mar. 4, 2013 at 4:38 pm
What an incredible story. This really inspired me to love myself and what I do. Keep telling this story to others, I think it's extremely important that girls learn to fight and defend themselves when there are so many crazy men going after us. In fact, why not start your own fighting club where you can teach your philosophy and skills?
bloodtype.poetry said...
Mar. 4, 2013 at 10:20 am
This poem is amazing. I love the detail of it. There is something about the length that adds to the meaning of it. Keep writing :)
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