The Courage of Wayward Girls by Penny Koepsel and Claire Matturro
We bordered vibrant pink with bright orange
while painting peace symbols on poster boards
in art class and cast off the teacher’s reprimand
that those colors clashed because peace symbols
look braver with Dayglo fluorescent.
We ran through woods in dime-store flip-flops and
fringed cutoffs, sunburned and fast as the boys
we later raced down darkening alleyways fearless
on banana bikes while ignoring commands to act
like young ladies because where was the fun in that?
We snuck out of high football games to risk
hitchhiking downtown at night because
anything was better than watching those damn
jocks crash their thick bodies into each other
while cheerleaders leapt inanely over nothing.
We smelled like Winstons and weed
and sometimes that Jovan Musk which
we shoplifted on a dare but never liked
as much as patchouli oil and incense
smoke that lingered in our long hair.
We rode Easy-Rider style on the backs of
rebuilt Harleys to join the peace marches
with men chanting “hell no, we won’t go”
and wrapped wet bandanas on our faces
in front of police loading tear gas canisters.
We grew up bold in our unnerving
faith in streets we never found on maps
and felt the first prickles of age on skin
made tender by the loose gravel
we skidded through rather than turn around.
We reveled giddy and headstrong in the full
plenty of youth heedless that the shiny sharp
pieces of the rules we broke would become
a collage of clashing colors bravely displayed on
a beige wall in a house where older people live.
Penny Koepsel and Claire Matturro are co-authors of the novel Wayward Girls (Red Adept Publishing 2021), a psychological thriller. Koepsel is a psychologist in Texas and Matturro is a former lawyer in Florida. Both have poetry and short stories published in various journals.