At halftime, the Warriors’ captain takes stock.
Bruises bloom on her best forward,
a midfielder is streaked in mud
as thick as her shin guard, the captain spits
dust and hikes her kilt to bandage a gash.
Across the roughed-up field,
the Panthers strut, raising red plastic cups
and celebrating as if they’ve already won—
reedy girls, full of speed maybe,
but no fight.
The captain clacks her stick on the forward’s.
Fight. Their sticks beat in rhythm on the halfbacks’.
Fight. The rest soon raise the chant.
Fight, Warriors. Fight!
The captain turns them loose on the field.
When the forward gets the passback,
they charge to the striking circle.
Sticks jab and swing. Feet pound
downfield, the ground rumbling under them.
Again and again, they attack
till their rivals—the win
slapshot out of them—are broken.
At the final whistle, the Warriors dance
and flex their brutal beauty.
Contributor’s Notes: Nancy Priff has been published in Ruminate Magazine, Glass: A Journal of Poetry, Kaleidowhirl, and The Writer’s Chronicle as well as in several anthologies. She holds an M.F.A from Fairleigh Dickinson University and has received a Fellowship in Literature from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts.