Girl Gone Rogue
Rachel Ronquillo Gray
Reading time: 3 minutes
A note from the editor:
"Girl Gone Rogue" first appeared in Issue 14 of Tahoma Literary Review. As with all powerful poems, I experienced several things at once as I read and heard it. Initially it caught my attention because of the successful use of rhythm, as it moves just as surely from stanza to stanza as this girl on the back of a motorcycle. It has questions, but it also has confidence. Also noteworthy is Rachel Ronquillo Gray's use of just enough alliteration to be guttural, like a racing motor, in a difficult approach to do well. And lastly, like the girl with her not-so-perfect boyfriend, the reader begins in one space but ends in another. The poem leads us down the road with her and offers us a vision of possibilities.
All of these elements combine to reach below the surface level of the words and grab at the heart of poetry.
So, yes! I can't wait for you to enjoy it, and let us know what you think by posting on our Facebook page or reaching out to us on Twitter.
Mare Heron Hake
If it’s wrong to love a boy whose only home is a motorcycle
& the open road, then I’m not right & don’t want to be. I wear white
dresses anyway. I sing in a soprano anyway. Everything I say
is a question. I’m so tired of being good. His mother warns me
he will leave, like his father left her, & still, I hike up my dress
& climb onto the back of his bike. I know the leather jacket
he gives me was for another girl. I wear it as if he bought it for me,
breathing big to fill the other-girl-shaped hole. Sleeves too long,
it keeps me warm against the ocean breeze. I walk beside him at night,
wearing this jacket & holding a white daisy. It’s the one thing I know
he picked for me. Everyone tells me he won’t last. Would it be so bad
if he didn’t & in the end, it was just me. Would it be so bad to spread
myself all over the place, let my dresses rip & fly, leave them tangled
in the weeds. Would it be so bad to love the wind & its wispy fingers
in my unbound hair & its grit on my skin. A heavy thing that sings
between my legs & in my palms, my heart, my everywhere-else.
Would it be so bad to trust my body to keep me alive, to lean into wicked
curves & switchbacks, to crave a silence filled with birds, highways, me.
Reprinted with permission from the poet
Rachel had this to say about "Girl Gone Rogue":
This poem grew out of one of my favorite lines from the John Waters film Cry-Baby, as spoken by Allison, the good girl character: “I’m so tired of being good.” In my work and in this particular poem, I’m interested in peeling back the layers of the “good girl” trope and exploring the desires and voices that lie underneath that facade. So much of the “good girl” trope is based on paternalistic ideas of purity, obedience, and propriety; with this poem, I wanted the Good Girl to give them all the finger and say, “Watch what I can do.”
A Kundiman, VONA, and Pink Door fellow, Rachel Ronquillo Gray lives in Indiana where she writes and makes a lot of food. You can find her at medusaironbox.com and on Instagram or Twitter @medusaironbox.