sometimes an errand
can bring springtime happiness
when you’re on a bike
i can’t believe our world this week–
surrounded by the same chauvinistic bullshit
my liberal baby-boomer parents raised me up against.
and it’s 2016 and i have three daughters and a man, a husband,
a born-and-bred Southern Baptist-raised Tennesseean, whose thoughts couldn’t enter the realm of filth so flippantly tossed
into the national spectrum
and we have a First Lady
who should be our Queen
whose words get twisted on my newsfeed within twenty-four hours
by. A. White. Man.
and i want to grab the world by its ears and shake some sense into it and put him in a swimming pool at age thirteen and have a hand slide up into his swimsuit.
and put him on a bicycle at age fourteen and on the middle of a spring day have a creeper follow him home and chase him into an alley and expose himself to him.
and i want to put him in the college library at age sixteen and have a stalker creep up behind him trying to reach up his shorts when he’s just searching for a poem by William Blake.
And I want him to go fuck himself and his white male privilege that I have never seen in my home–the home of my birth or my marriage–even in all its whiteness
And I want him to feel that terror of being female. Because every woman I know has had icy blood running through her veins in those moments of harassment and assault that have plagued us for all of time.
But he won’t. Trump won’t apologize and he would argue till the day runs dark, and all i can do is pray to a god i don’t believe in that my three daughters don’t face the same fate. That they will find a home as safe as mine with a man as good as my father or husband and a world better than the one we have set before them now.
Because it’s all i can do. Because i moved away in the pool and told my father about the flasher and left that library.
Because i’m writing this now and somewhere in the world eyes are reading it and taking one moment to hear that terror slip out of my veins and transform into the truth that makes me Silent. No. More.
it isn’t church,
but a Sunday morning sunshine ride–
a line of bikes glistening in waning summer heat,
with shout-outs as loud as a preacher who
calls his parishioners to God:
Gravel on the path!
the words trickle down the line,
heated breaths repeating them
so loud that even prairie dogs
stand at attention to hear.
and we wrap ourselves
in blue-sky calorie burning
led by a fast-paced 78-year-old man,
just as forgiving for our
missed turns and flat tires
as the best of His missionaries.
everyone wins today
with sleeping in and reading books
and me fitting in a bike ride
on the way to the movies
(coastal views, zero elevation,
heat seeping through my new
jersey in a rushed attempt to
meet the time schedule)
and yet it hovers.
my vacation with friendly family,
ocean views and coral reefs
and the best lake swimming there is
no happy hour.
pedaling across those bridges,
sweating steps in Savannah,
making it through another day,
a blessed, lucky day on this earth…
and no drink to top it off,
to melt the anxiety that comes
with upcoming controversial family,
the stress that will be DC in July,
seeing my father-in-law slowly lose his mind;
no drink to bring brighter to life
the constancy of waves,
to further open my mouth for all
the thoughts i’m dying to share,
(to pour onto the page);
no drink to further relax my toes
into this cushion of sand,
my sore muscles into the clutch of alcohol,
my mind from the weight of the world.
and i say it again and again:
There’s always a reason…
and even on the perfect day,
the life’s a beach dream vacation day,
it. is. still. hard.
it is why i pedal.
why i write.
why i drive 6000 miles.
why i watch waves.
because the need to escape is real.
in all of us, no matter how picture-perfect our lives appear,
it is as real as this view, this beach, these toes.
but i made it.
i made it through another day.
and this poem is my happy hour.