Endowed in perpetuity by the Glenna Luschei Fund for Excellence

3:33 Sports Short #59 // Not Supposed to by Micah Ling

You searched “boxing gym with nice showers.” You wanted to learn how to box, but only if you could do it early in the morning and shower before work. You wanted to learn how to box because you’re a woman and you’re not supposed to. You wanted to learn how to box because it’s like dancing but with fire.

This is New York City, so you found your gym. Chelsea. It’s an intimidating room: 40 hanging bags, low light, and loud music.  You signed up for a class, and it’s been your religion ever since.

First you jog a mile, to warm up: you need to run. Your father taught you that.

The class is 45-minutes of sweat. Old-school calisthenics, shadowboxing with hand-wraps, and 7 rounds on the heavy-bags with gloves. You learn the difference between speed and strength. And the exact length of a single minute.

Jab-cross-jab-cross-jab-cross over and over as fast as possible and your arms are jelly after 60-seconds. You’re like a puppy pawing a mirror. Two minutes. Nonstop. And all you want to do is switch to uppercuts.

Or jumping jacks.

Or sit-ups.

But when you punch the bag for strength, nothing feels better.

Like breaking the rules.

Jab-CROSS. Everything you’ve got—most of it coming from your legs and core.

And you start thinking about how much damage you could do. There is an obvious violence here.

That version of you—the one who has a hard time crushing bugs in the apartment—takes a seat when you’re with the bag.

You imagine blood.


Micah Ling lives in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado. Her most recent collection of poetry, Flashes of Life, is out on Hobart Press. Read more: micahling.com

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