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Extreme Sports

a fresh new poem by Rachel DeWoskin

Extreme sports

Rachel DeWoskin 


Here the bee-hive, alive with potential
to give us a jolt that’ll sting or swell 

us up, make me shriek. A cliff? Let’s jump, a cord snaps
back, raises, keeps us from the dirt for another day. Perhaps

you and I just like to come as close as the river does 
to that thin line, racing the northern length of California was 

our screaming feat. Rocks on which to smash a raft, back, the last 
fact: water here is toxic to its fish. We flipped into rapids so fast

white foam fountains spun us under until we were propelled to a still pool.
The salmon hadn't floated up yet, bellies burning. It was cool

in May. Later in the summer, hotter, way less water, and they
cook. Our oars were gone, orange kayak likely miles away

already. So we climbed onto a hot Klamath rock, alive. I said look,
an eagle. It swooped close as a puppet to us both. You took

my hand, drowned limp from paddling. Now you would be 
practical, and save us both. But you asked, "Want to marry me?" 





Rachel DeWoskin’s fourth book, the critically acclaimed novel, Blind, was published by Penguin in August, 2014. Her most recent novel, Big Girl Small, (FSG 2011) received the 2012 American Library Association’s Alex Award and was named one of the top 3 books of 2011 by Newsday. DeWoskin’s memoir, Foreign Babes in Beijing (WW Norton 2005) about the years she spent in China as the unlikely star of a Chinese soap opera, has been published in six countries, optioned first by Paramount for a feature film and then by HBO to be developed into a television series, for which DeWoskin co-wrote the pilot episode. Her debut novel Repeat After Me (The Overlook Press, 2009), about a Chinese dissident navigating New York City in 1989, won a ForeWord Magazine Book of the Year Award. She has written essays and articles for Vanity Fair, The Sunday Times Magazine of London, Teachers and Writers, and anthologies including Found: Requiem for a Paper Bag, and Wanderlust. Her poems have appeared in journals including Ploughshares, Seneca Review, New Delta Review, Nerve Magazine and The New Orleans Review. She teaches fiction at the University of Chicago.