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Rink by Stephanie Hammer



What of us, the bladeless? The regs, the meat foots, without hockey sticks or O jackets or any kind of competition gear?

We trudge on broken leather through streets of snow in an eternal winter, since they turned all the taps and hoses on, twisted the sprinklers and dumped the swimming pools out onto the streets, and tuned the clouds to high nimbus.

All cold all the time.

We pray for drifts to reveal some patch of black where our feet might stick, where rubber might for only a few days a year become legal and burn the road with the smell of melted air, the sound of engines. But mostly we dream of loamy earth, of sand never seen -- not in years -- its grains working through the delicate in betweens of feet.

Ah, toes.

But feet, bare feet have become forbidden. Never seen except furtively in the state-sponsored locker rooms where folks quickly change their heavy socks. Why you darenít even put them nude into bed. No foot snuggling says the governor -- it gives people ideas.

When we think of feet, we think -- shudderingly -- of her. Our niece Incessantly, she will be the survivor of the family, maybe the only one. I want to live, she said as they rolled her in and amputated her from the ankle down. Mere flippy flippers, said the surgeon (such a common op these days you just get a local so she heard them talking and joking as they glided around the op-table). Ya donít need them girlie, they said as they honed down the shin bones and fitted her with the hybrid naturo-skaters. Sheís medaled in the regionals, pre-req for attending high school, and got her parents jobs running the Duponis -- so many, to smooth the streets for them: the hockey stickers; short track trekkers; 1,000, 2,000 and 4,000 meter maids, keeping the speed under control with laser guns and electro blast stunners; and last but not least, the figuriners; single, double and triple loop lobbyists; salchow supreme court justices; double axle congressionals; triple and most esteemed quadruple Axle ministeros who, in honor of their rank, have blades instead of hair implanted razor-like on their heads, blades instead of ears, instead of hands.

And their eyes shine opaquely with the silver sharpness of knives.



Stephanie Hammer's work has appeared in Mosaic, Bridges, Thresholds, and NYCBigCityLit, as well as in the Cafe Irreal (her short short, "Meet Mooshie and Smooshie," appeared in Issue #6). Her story on 09/11 is forthcoming in the Bellevue Literary Review, and her short shorts on King Lear and Sid Vicious will be part of the inaugural issue of RHAPSOIDIA, a new Inland Empire avant-garde literary journal. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband and daughter.


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