The Heavy Bag

By Maryam Ahmad

October 18, 2021

The Heavy Bag

For three years of my teenage life, I fought. Around 5 PM each day, I’d walk into the boxing gym—a repurposed garage—and carefully wrap up my hands, winding the black cloth over and over my wrist and palm, in and out through my knuckles, until my hands felt safe. Then, I would start working the heavy bag, ducking and dipping and stepping around it as it swung back and forth, back and forth, in response to my hits. The coach, a vaguely sexist and perpetually sunburned man, would always comment on how hard I hit. "Damn, girl. You really hate that bag."

I did. I, the girl, did hate that bag. I hated how heavy it was, how taunting, how it told me that “you’ll never be good enough” and “you’re just a stupid teenager” and “there’s no future for you, none, just a sharp cliff to stumble off.” I, the girl hitting the bag, would never fall in love, my family would never be whole again, I would never look up at the sky and see the northern lights shimmering above me. I, the girl dancing around the bag as it swung, had too much despair for the world to carry. As the sky darkened, I kept punching the bag, snapping my arm forward to make contact, hitting with the force of my legs, the thump thump thump of my fists almost drowning out the taunts in my head.


Maryam Ahmad is a medical student in Pasadena, California. Her work appears or is forthcoming in Catapult, Guernica Magazine, and The BreakBeat Poets Vol. 3. She is currently at work on a lyric nonfiction book about her family's intertwined sickness stories.


Picture by Cottonbro courtesy of Pexels 

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