Learning to ride, falling down, getting back on
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I tell people that when I was born, my mother
was on drugs, and so she named me Brett.
But what I don’t tell them is that she almost
named me Charlotte and wanted to call me
Cha-Cha. My almost-name seeps with sugar
and sequins, a dancer with a nicotine
patch slapped over a half-sleeve tattoo
of a big-tittied mermaid with a Fu Manchu.
If I were Cha-Cha, I swear to God I’da had
all the boys in my sixth-grade class smoking
Parliaments with me under the bleachers.
Ryan Goldstein woulda never knocked the books
out of my hands, and the girls woulda lined up
at my locker to get a look at my new Chuck Taylors.
My mama woulda wanted to rename me
in high school when I started going God-knows-
where at two in the morning with Jason Wheeler,
knocking back Miller High Lifes and throwing
the cans at speeding trains. Cha-Cha is my id,
the girl in the purple dress at the funeral.
The hot-lipped, fuck-you-very-much fast-talker
selling fake IDs out the back of her pop-up camper.
In my dreams I’m her, a goddess in ruin, a red-
lipstick, denim-jacket pool shark with a taste
for whiskey. Who don’t take no shit. Who lets
the cares of this world slip through her hands
like air, like dust, like something impossible to hold.
Brett Elizabeth Jenkins