Karate Kid

A poem by Nancy Santos, December 2019

Nancy Santos was born and raised in Seattle, and she has lived in Washington ever since. She discovered her love for poetry in her 40s while attending Central Washington University and is working on her first book of poetry. Her poetry has appeared in Manastash.

I return to our first summer, July and August blurring
in jaunts to Golf N’ Stuff, swirling in drunken mirth.

Eager at the peephole for his arrival, my monocle eyes
rattle like bells on a shopkeeper’s door.

My skin sizzles, seeks shade under a sequoia,
engulfs in the twisted limbs of an angel oak.

Our chests pasted in the cement
of meandering sweat, I splash in quicksand,

stare at the blinding sky with closed eyes.
His shadow crossing the sun drenches

my face in seltzer, the pelting fizz
of cold Fresca quenching my throat.

We laugh until our cheeks split and bleed,
the syrup staining skin in vertical strokes.

We ride the Round-up, waxing chassis in whirring circles,
fish frozen on ice, my insides shining.

Our sons dress up like Johnny from Cobra Kai
and Daniel LaRusso from Miyagi-Do on Halloween,

catch flies bare-handed with chopstick fingers,
practice crane kicks from his favorite movie.

That summer still lingers when I stand in the shower,
the tinsel washing my hair, dripping down cackle creases,

remembering how it never felt like a chore or endless
training, how he didn’t need bonsai trimming,

how I found balance
with one leg in the air.