My Friend Asked Me To Teach Her Daughter To Kickbox

And so I drove through February to find a twelve-year old
outside in shorts, a t-shirt, and boxing gloves. She’s strong enough to
hurt me, if I let her, and she learns the way a child learns, her whole
heart behind every punch. I start to tell her yes, that’s the cross,
imagine you’re putting out a cigarette with your right foot,
then catch myself, and say: “imagine you’re squishing a bug.”
Once we wore through snow and into soil,
every kick she threw painted itself on my body in mud.
I wasn’t showing yet, and wasn’t telling yet, so I just guarded my own
abdomen with extra care, glad for the fierceness of young women
and for the snow, which melted on our arms like accidental rivers,
and for the clearing in the yard where she became a fighter
and I became, well, not a mother yet, but whatever comes before that,
preoccupied by what I could not feel or touch.

Jenny Liou is a retired cage fighter who lives and writes in Port Townsend, WA.
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