Does My Slashed Achilles Tendon Make Me More Feminine

For a whole summer

the county’s daughters 

weren’t allowed to visit 

the local mall after dark.

Members of a sex-trafficking ring

were supposedly slicing ankles as young girls−

late teens, twenties, early, mid, and late−

were stepping into their vehicles.

The perpetrator would wedge himself 

beneath a potential victim’s vehicle,

striking the moment a sneakered or sandaled foot

entered his line of vision.

With the victim momentarily disabled,

the perpetrator would snatch her off the ground,

toss her into a nearby idling van−

white and without windows,

the never-to-be trusted vans of our childhood−

and give his accomplice the green light

to hightail it to the operation’s nearest headquarters.

Always, these tall tales bore holes

as raggedy-edged as our hearts. 

Most made it out alive,

hobbling and hysterical as blood spurted from 

an area of the body so taken for granted.

We knew none of the victims,

dead or alive.


bracing our eyes against the sun,

we dizzied ourselves with images of

body-less ankles leaping and bounding in midair,

healed ankles with scars identical to

the ghostly stretch marks

marking the insides of our thighs.

To sport ankle bracelets

felt a most grievous sin.

We concocted ways to protect our ankles

so that the mall could be visited after sundown:

borrowed soccer shin guards,

swinging our legs into our vehicles 

as opposed to lifting them one by one.

We stocked up on pepper spray,

our jingling keychains now anchored 

by flashes of burning pink.

We parked beneath parking lot lights

and near entrances.

We brought along brothers and boyfriends.

We eyed their meaty, flawless ankles with envy,


They’ll never bear a scar. 


Christine Naprava is a writer from South Jersey. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Contrary Magazine, Kissing Dynamite, The Friday Poem, Thin Air Online, Drunk Monkeys, and Overheard Lit, among others. You can find her on Twitter @CNaprava and Instagram @cnaprava.