You Love Thursdays
Today, between sessions with writing students focused on critiquing military strategy, I listened to the testimony of Christine Blasey Ford. I stopped my work and wrote, beginning on our bus ride to Tacoma this morning.
Oh Mae. I wonder where you are standing as you read this, years from now. I wonder if I've remembered well enough. I wonder what you're holding.
You do seem to love Thursdays, truly, Mae. And I am glad. Even though we've talked about what it means for women to be cut down, left out, robbed, doubted, shamed. You wake up every morning and ask if it is Thursday, as if now it will all change.
My poem is for you, as so many of them are.
It is Thursday. You love Thursdays
because your preschool class
visits the children’s museum
one floor above its classroom
and if you are line leader you get
to push the elevator’s call button.
You love elevators. You like
the way it feels to rise and rise
independently, your feet firmly planted.
Our bus left one minute ahead
of schedule this morning. We sat
closest to the exit where I read
a picture book quietly for you,
the moral clear as a confession:
sometimes we get what we want,
sometimes we get what we don’t.
The main character is a girl
who does not want to wear a jacket.
Eventually, she wears what she's told
and finds happiness elsewhere.
You called her story true and said
there have been times when
you did not want what you got.
I said you are four. Buckle up,
I wanted to say, but I didn’t
because my mouth was full of hope.
Then I read my own book,
a black man’s memoir, the words
bursting open soundlessly
behind my eyes. I wondered
if you could see the flash
of each explosion. I dropped you off
and walked to work, where I poured
comments in red down the margins
of several essays. Tiny fires
I am paid to start. A TV nearby
showed a woman, surrounded
by senators, dismantling trauma
one trigger and spring at a time
then rebuilding it, each piece
burning in her hands. The trauma
was hers, but the blueprint
seemed part mine, part ours.
Before I picked you up from school
I sat in a coffee shop with two exits.
I thought, what if I forget this?
What will I say when they ask
how I left, and why don’t I remember,
when I wrote it all down for you?