Her Last Cartwheel
By Rochelle Deans
Cartwheel, also a verb. To turn, feet-hands-feet, into a child.
The first cartwheel is a celebration. Feet go straight over the top of hands and deliver her to the future. After months of doing gymnastics, she is a gymnast.
She likes how cartwheels take you somewhere. You’re always farther when you land them. Always looking back.
The last cartwheel sneaks in. Most people don’t know as they rise that they’ll never stand on the skies, hair brushing heavens of grass, again.
She thinks her last cartwheel deposited her into adulthood long ago, in some faded, composite memory. It’s blurry, or it makes her dizzy. But she stands at the top of a hill beside her eager daughter and puts one foot forward and her body remembers.
(Cartwheels take you somewhere and that somewhere is always a place where you are older. But the turning—the turning leads you back.)
Rochelle Deans is an editor and author who lives in Portland, Oregon with her husband and two young children. Her bad habits include mispronouncing words, eating ice cream right before bed, and spending far too much time on the internet.