In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

  • I Imagine Blood
  • Micah Ling (bio)

My maternal grandfather had the stature of a boxer: short, muscular, with chiseled features and a size-7 shoe. His nickname was "Bug." He was Mohawk Indian and spent most of his life working a farm in upstate New York. Fight or flight, he would fight—or so I imagine. He died when my mother was ten years old: his heart gave out. But I visited his farm and walked his land. I have two photographs of him grinning with a fierce strength.

________

I've known the story of my family since I was a tiny child: it's always seemed like a far-off tale. My mother and her sisters still talk about it at holidays, bits and pieces here and there. I ask questions like they're reminiscing about a days-long film I've never seen. As a child, I thought about it a lot. I imagined this part of me that no one knew—that I didn't think anyone would believe.

________

On my 35th birthday, I decide I want to learn how to box—or, I want to hit something—but only if I can do it in the morning and shower before work. Living in New York City, I find my gym: Chelsea. Very clean. Very attractive instructors. Not at all what you think of when you think of boxing. But when they turn the lights down low, it's just a room with 40 hanging bags and music with a beat. It's just a room to unleash in.

________

[End Page 9]

As long as I live in New York City, I try to escape New York City. Everyone pretends they're important; everyone wants to be noticed. Except the famous, who don't want to be noticed. A strange, constant battle. One time, I saw David Bowie in SoHo: like a leaf in the wind. A somebody and a nobody at once. Bowie's eyes were each a different color because of a fistfight when he was a teenager. The fight was over a girl, of course, and the boy who punched him became an even better friend after the quarrel. Sometimes fighting brings closure. I don't imagine Bowie as a fighter; but his eyes were. In the city, everyone's fighting for something.

________

As the story goes, a white family adopted my grandfather's mother—my great-grandmother. They adopted several Indian children to teach them to be good Christians—they wanted to do the right thing. But times got tough before the turn of the twentieth century. They realized they couldn't take care of the children; when my great-grandmother was five years old, they hanged her. With a rope.

________

The instructors at the boxing gym only go by nicknames. The woman who trains the early morning class is Jaws. The thing that makes Jaws a good instructor is repetition. Like learning to play the drums. She repeats the notes over and over. Pop-pop, Pop-pop, Pop-pop. A heartbeat. Slowly, I learn what can't be taught: that I do have some fight in me; that maybe I can do some damage.

________

Somehow, my great-grandmother freed herself from the rope around her neck. I've heard this story over and over, and each time it seems like the first. She freed herself from the rope. She used all of her little strength and ran away—as far as she could go. She fought, and then flew. I wish I knew what she took with her. I wish I knew if she even had shoes when she ran. I wish I knew how she ever trusted anyone again.

________

The logistics of boxing aren't complicated. There are four kinds of punches. "Jab" and "cross" are the ones you think of when you think of boxing: to the head or body—lead hand and back hand. "Hooks" and "uppercuts" look like [End Page 10] how they sound. To defend, you "slip" and "duck under." All dance moves. All rhythm.

The hands return to the face, always: the face and the head are sacred—fists...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1544-1733
Print ISSN
1522-3868
Pages
pp. 9-13
Launched on MUSE
2017-10-12
Open Access
No
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