On Anger

I’m angry
because my parents didn’t want me
like all children should be dreamed and coveted
I was the fruit of duty
conceived one spring evening
after church
I was born
on Sunday

I’m angry
because my mother didn’t love me
like all girls should be
adored and mentored
because her mother didn’t love her
the latest in a long matriline
of hollow faceless dolls
filling their withered daughters
with dry, empty breath

I’m angry
because I couldn’t run free
always the good one
trimmed of messy edges
neat and symmetrical
a patch in the family quilt
weakly sewn together
pulled in all directions

I’m angry
because no one could comfort me
and my self-soothing
dramatic pleas for help
sudden welts
closed-up bronchi
spasmed colon
and fits of self-mutilation
inspired rejection
instead of redemption

I’m angry
because my father didn’t
straighten his back for me didn’t
widen his shoulders for me
never taught me
to stand up protected
my boundaries too permeable
for safety or resilience
letting in all manner of
pestilence
virus, bacteria
free radicals
and human plague

I’m angry
because the world taught me
I’m a girl
I’m not allowed
beauty and brilliance
I’m not afforded
affection and respect
I’m second to any mediocrity in the room
if it has a penis
and a deep voice

I’m angry
because circumstance
was not the way it should have been
happenstance
rarely just or logical
so much imperfection and harm
easily avoided
or remedied

But as I reflect
relax my tightened triceps
accept
everything
was exactly
as it had to be
and I’m okay

I’m free

because
I’m no longer
angry.

© S.Rinderle, 2013

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