• Vol. 09
  • Chapter 06
Image by

Show us how you hula-hoop

"How many times can you hula-hoop, kid, how many times?"
"Maybe 100," I say, "if I try."
Hoop after hoop was hooked over my head, around my neck.
"Prove it, kid," they said. "100 times."
The weight was enormous. I bruised my hips but reached 100.
"200," they said, and I kept going, not knowing why.
For some reason they seemed to be retreating from me.
"300," they called. I struggled on, panting, hoop after hoop
falling to the floor. Puffs of sand flew into my eyes.
"When you drop the last one, you die," they said, through a mega-phone.
"What?" I yelled.
There was no answer and I could not turn to look.
I hula-hooped on into adulthood, until my skin was peeled
and bloody, until the lake at my feet was red and rusted.
Explosions went off periodically in the distance.
Hello? I tried to ask.
But my mouth was full of dust.
All I could do, at last, was choose to stop.
Hoops held aloft like dragon-wings, I faced the sun,
or a gunshot.