Polyphemus

You gesture for me to pass
as if I’d been waiting
for your permission
I wasn’t looking at you
but at the traffic
you couldn’t see
judging my safety for myself

I’ve seen you before
sprawling your briefcase
notes, folders, phones, Starbucks
arms and legs
over the territory of the board room table
that extends well into mine
without even noticing
your border violation

Just like you
step in front of me to see
the street performance or
to check your muscular form
in the sweaty mirror
of the weightlifting room
startled and confused
when I materialize through my voice
or nearly head-on collide
when I refuse to step aside
first and yield
to your supposed
right-of-way

Privilege means
you get to take up space
without considering
whether it’s already occupied

Privilege means
you get to grant permission
that’s not yours to give

Privilege means
you get to take up words
and time
volume and decisions
while I budget mine
frugally
slip them in narrowly
with moderated manner and
modulated tone

Privilege means
you don’t even have to realize
you have privilege
that you’re breathing others’ air
and standing on our ground
The air around me is not a vacuum
my ground isn’t vacant
frontier
just waiting, barren, for you

True, even my body is built
to accommodate yours
but
I will not be
small and apologetic
scarce and invisible
fast and minimal
just to make room for you.

I don’t hate you
I don’t even hate your privilege
I hate its unexamined injustice
unearned rewards
I hate
your invested ignorance
since privilege means
you get to be  BIG
and abundant
and
blind.

© S. Rinderle, 2013

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