“Soft Dismount” by Matt Gillick

A Gymnast propels through the air after launching off the springboard. Camera flashes capture blurry movements: Facebook posts for later, if She wins. Judges dress in hooking avenue suits, out of shape for the event, looking with stoicism and want. The gymnast mothers stare with ravenous eyes at their daughters’ tucks, corkscrews, letting their visceral memory take over fear. Turning tight as if suspended by strings, She prepares for the final moment (the most crucial) squaring Her selves for the dismount.

As Her feet approach the foamy turf, She’s back on a park bench watching a falling leaf in spring before the fall afternoons on the mats. It swoons and somersaults in the wind of hazed quickness. That day She didn’t know mama signed Her up for the class at the Y. Starting the diet when they went to get gelato (same as every Sunday). Mama asked if they had any herbal tea for the princess. Faintly landing on the fresh cut grass, a thud of rubber navy blue, the cracking of knees as She straightens the legs. She stares, stone, at the Russian judge for the extra point, like what coach and mommy said before feeling the hot light of a thousand parents’ vying for a tumble to bronze because, My little girl’s golden.


Matt Gillick is from Virginia but now wanders around Connecticut.

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