Karen J. Weyant’s poems and essays have appeared in The Briar Cliff Review, Chautauqua, cream city review, Copper Nickel, Fourth River, Harpur Palate, Lake Effect, Poetry East, Punctuate, Spillway, Stoneboat, Storm Cellar, Waccamaw
, and Whiskey Island
. She is the author of two poetry chapbooks, Stealing Dust
(Finishing Line Press, 2009) and Wearing Heels in the Rust Belt
(Winner of Main Street Rag’s 2011 Chapbook Contest). She teaches at Jamestown Community College in Jamestown, New York. When she is not teaching, she explores the rural Rust Belt of northern Pennsylvania and western New York.
Finding the Three-Legged Salamander
The day the Shaffer twins pulled
the salamander from Sevin-Mile Creek,
I was wearing my first bra, soft cups
pushing against my T-shirt, straps
digging into my shoulders. I had always
been the one who found crayfish scuttering
in the mud or rescue nightcrawlers
bathing in summer sidewalk steam,
but that day, I watched the two boys
cradle the limp creature in their hands,
and even with their invitation, I hesitated
to reach out and touch the smooth skin.
When I did, my thumb traced its body
to find the strange soft nub
that seemed to burst from the skin.
Somehow, everything felt tight.
A Ballerina in Right Field
She has seen the games, the sports clips, the instant replays.
Every jump for a fly ball is a graceful dance move, a spin
in the air and arms poised for the catch. So it’s here,
deep in right field, that she practices her dancing.
For the first position, she pushes her heels together, toes
pointed out on either side and then arches her arms in front
as if holding a beach ball. For the second, she forces her feet
apart at hip distance and floats her arms to her sides.
Ankles and arms shifting, slim hips swaying, she strives
to perfect each position into a delicate dance routine.
And through every move, pants sagging, cuffs dragging,
she ignores the weeds that brush against her ankles
and the dirt clouds that drift over her cleats. Her uniform bunches
at her knees and pulls tight across her collar bones and chest.
No one is watching. All eyes are on the pitcher,
the catcher, the batter and the ball. So she practices more.
She knows when that fly ball finally comes her way,
that she will be ready to make that leap into the air.