legs like a pugilist
by Linda King

my mother’s friend—
the one I want to be like
no children    a husband who takes her
to Florida

when she visits
I find excuses to hang around
make her notice me
comment on her earrings    her hairdo
call her Mrs. Sheldon

at first
I think it is a compliment
think it must have something
to do with dancing

pink tights    tutus
the lead in Swan Lake

it takes me a while
to look it up

never a good speller
I think it might be
a version of
puja;            Hindu rite of worship
                                            a prayer

then I find it    pugilist
          n. a boxer.  esp. a professional

in my parents’ room    in front
of the full-length mirror
I hoist up my skirt    stare
at my legs    front
and back

my hand curling
into a fist


Linda King is a Vancouver, British Columbia poet whose work
has appeared in numerous literary journals in Canada and
Event, Prairie Fire, CV2, Room, Quills, Envoi,
Orbis, Osprey, Gargoyle, Wicked Alice, Monday Night, Third
, and others.  She was also recently nominated for the Best
of the Net Anthology for work that appeared in the online journal
Toasted Cheese.  A graduate of the Writers’ Studio program at
Simon Fraser University, King lives and writes near the beach in

On “legs like a pugilist”:
“legs like a pugilist” is an excerpt from a manuscript in progress . . .
one that depicts small-town life through the eyes of a child.  The
poem speaks to the universal theme of lost innocence.  Most of us
can remember that horrible moment when we realized that
something or someone we idolized was imperfect.  These are the
moments that stay with us and if we are very lucky . . . they
transform themselves into poetry.

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Apple Valley Review:
A Journal of Contemporary

ISSN 1931-3888

Volume 4, Number 1
(Spring 2009)

Copyright © 2009
by Leah Browning, Editor.  

All future rights to material
published in the
Valley Review
are retained
by the individual authors
and artists.