Meghan Dunn

Meghan Dunn lives in Brooklyn, NY, where she teaches high school English. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Ploughshares, Narrative, Poetry Northwest, The Collagist, and Southern Humanities Review, among others. She has been the recipient of scholarships and fellowships from the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, the St. Botolph’s Club Foundation, and the Writers’ Room of Boston.

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CHYNA

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Beast, the boys say,

over the roar of Monday Night Raw,

but I think she is a bear,

black haired and brutal, comfortable

in her oiled flesh, which she wears

like a custom suit.

Large, somehow lithe,

she sidesteps her opponents’ swings

in her black leather boots.

She fights men.

Beast, the boys say,

steroid freak,

as she lifts a man high,

wraps his thighs around her face,

smashes him spine-first into the mat.

He struggles to stand

while she waits to toss him across the ring

like the nothing he seems to her.

One of the boys makes a fist.

He pounds it into the cup of his other hand

like he’s churning butter.

I wouldn’t fuck that with your dick, he says,

to another boy, who laughs,

puts his hand on my thigh.

I love the way she moves,

how she fills up her whole body.

Inside my small frame, I am even smaller,

and in this room, a kind of decoration,

a reassurance of what is right and natural.

Onscreen, Chyna bends a man in half

and the boys’ faces twitch

with everything they hate

and don’t understand.

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GRAMMAR LESSON

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After school, Carl asks me to read an essay he’s written

about walking with his father in Haiti when he was six.

They walked to the port after church, the sun hot

on their bare heads, his father pausing

to wipe his face with a red handkerchief.

When they arrived, there were men shouting, running,

men with machetes which they waved in the air above their heads.

He and his father hid behind a fruit stand,

its counter heaped high with mangoes and plantains,

and his father covered Carl’s ears

but he saw people lying on the ground.

“Peoples heads,” he wrote, “were lying on the ground too.”

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Is this real, I ask, and he nods.

Small for his age, thin and frail,

his neck seems too slender

to support his head, his long-lashed eyes.

This should be possessive, I say.

The heads belong to the people.

In a different version of this story, he looks back at me.

Not anymore, he says.

In a different version of this story, I listen.

In that version, his head isn’t bowed over the paper

as I lift my red pen to the page,

add the small machete swoop

of the apostrophe.

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