I stride to campus with swinging hips,
ignore the honks, the heckling. It is summer
and I am wearing a sun dress embroidered
in green and yellow, the color of the afternoon
sun filtering through leaf-heavy branches
in the park. I brush my skirt with naked
arms, feel it flutter against strong, bare
legs. From a distance, no one sees
the militance of my unshaven armpits, weapons
to repulse those who seek to weaken
my defenses. They are power granted me—
to make of my body an instrument
of contradiction fatiguing to decode. No human
will succeed at deciphering such a virgin
as me. And so my long hair flows
behind me as I gallop over gray sidewalks.
Every day more free. Every day more fierce.
Every day more lonely.
Margaret Coombs is a poet and retired academic librarian from Manitowoc, Wisconsin, the city of her birth, which is located on the western shore of Lake Michigan. Her first chapbook, The Joy of Their Holiness, was published in 2020 under the name Peggy Turnbull. She now uses her birth name as her pen name to honor the poet she was as a young woman. Recent poems have appeared in Wisconsin Poets Calendar, The Solitary Plover, Amethyst Review, and Medusa’s Kitchen. She is a member of the Wisconsin Fellowship of Poets and the Science Fiction & Fantasy Poetry Association.