Spring 1992 • Vol. XIV No. 2 Poetry |

The Line

The church basement had a smooth floor. The sun came slant into the window wells. There was still sun at six on a Christian Sunday. Midge said "first a game." George said "boy girl." We lined up straight as something sucked through a straw. The parents brought out sacks. The "Safeway" side was up. "Where America Shops" was down in front of us on the gray tiles. The game was: Sit, girl, on the sack. Pull, boy, across the floor. Then pull her back. I stood at the end of one line, shaking, fat. My pants were too tight to zip, so I had them pinned and wore a long-tailed shirt, out. My heart rippled fear to my arms, my chin, my breasts, all my soft, shamed parts I breathed so hard I popped a pin. The game started. The line moved up. Megan squealed. That was right. John pulled her with just one hand. The shouts pulled back into the hard walls,the slick floors, back into the high windows into the bent light. "If he pulls me, the sack will rip.

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Susan Stinson
Susan Stinson is the author of four novels, the most recent of which is Spider in a Tree (Small Beer Press, 2013), about Northampton in the time of eighteenth century preacher Jonathan Edwards. She is at work on Lamentation Hill, inspired by Edwards’s wild grandmother. She has received the Jim Duggins Outstanding Mid-Career Novelist Prize from Lambda Literary. In 2016, she was a writing fellow at Hawthornden Castle in Scotland and a creative artists research fellow at the American Antiquarian Society in Worcester. In Fall 2017, she taught fiction writing at Amherst College. For more: www.susanstinson.net.

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