THE ONLY AWKWARD ONE

MARLENA CHERTOCK

 
 

You were the only one at summer camp with a back brace.
Wore it at night when looking boxy mattered less. Sweat
sliding along your spine, you thought you were the only
 
awkward one, the only one in your cabin small enough
to do a somersault in the bottom bunk, gripping the
bedrails and embracing your inescapable weirdness.
 
You were the only girl in your kvutzah who feared
she didn’t fit in, not because of social status or looks,
but because of ability. You didn’t identify as disabled then.
 
You were the one on long hikes through the woods
and up mountains with knees and hips throbbing
for days afterwards. Inflamed like their own
 
mountain range. The one with hips that locked like
all the trunks full of clothes in your cabin. After sitting
or standing for too long, you had to knuckle-crack to move.
 
You were seemingly the only one at camp who didn’t
make out or hook up. Wondered if it was your shyness,
pimple-studded face, back brace, your body.

 
 

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