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Girl with Scoliosis Plays Soccer

She sweats like other children do
runs after the ball, gives chase with them
grass stains her knees as she slides
her body between cleat and ball
before the ball can be shot at the goal 
she pushes it with the force of her slide
out of bounds, we see her, mud smeared 
on jersey, ponytail pulled tight, rise up
she sees her future, the need to grab handrail
unsteady before ground crashes in 
to curl and tumble as she slips and falls
the need to train muscle and reflex, she is
willing her body, willing to break skin
to bruise, and bleed, she is not keeping score
she never cares if she wins, more than fun
like a dancer she is learning the moves
how to tackle the ground with grace, how 
to think as the ball, as the world, speeds 
towards open face. She sees this
she runs forward, head first.  

                                       —Kelsey Bryan-Zwick

Kelsey Bryan-Zwick is a Spanish/English speaking SoCal poet and artist with a B.A. from UC Santa Cruz in Literature/Creative Writing. She is the author of three chapbooks, the most recent being Watermarked (Sadie Girl Press) a hand-bound edition which intermixes both her poetry and art. Disabled with severe scoliosis from a young age, her poems often focus on trauma giving heart to the antiseptic language of hospital intake forms. A Pushcart Prize nominee, Kelsey’s poetry appears in Incandescent Mind, petrichor, Like a Girl, Lummox, Short Poems Ain’t Got Nobody to Love, Cadence Collective, Eunoia Review, and Redshift 2.