The Best of Chippewa Falls Volume One's guide to the riverside city » Presented by Mason Companies, Leinie Lodge, Northwestern Bank, and Go Chippewa Falls

I don’t remember learning how to wrap
a gift, who taught me how to tie the string
around my fingers, with scissors curl
the ends. Tying shoes, I’ll credit to Dad
along with telling time and jokes, balancing
a checkbook, chopping onions without crying.

In fifth grade, Val showed me how to run
a razor across my legs, warned Watch out
around the ankles. French kissing: the honor
goes to a wiry boy whose name was James
(or John?) who slid his timid tongue along
my gums, placed his hand upon my hairless knee.

You can break a promise and be forgiven
I picked up from my mother, as well as how
to flirt while knotting a necktie around
your lover’s throat. Lying I figured out
on my own. Little lies first, like I haven’t
felt this way before, then bigger, hungrier
untruths. This glass will be my last; I never
wanted children; I am not a poet.

Katie Vagnino has taught creative writing at UW-Eau Claire and the Loft Literary Center. Her debut poetry collection, Imitation Crab, was published by Finishing Line Press in February of this year. For more by and about Katie, visit her author page at


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