A Teacher Left Yesterday (Poem)

A teacher left yesterday.

She left a note in sprawling cursive on the board

Saying “you are great girls, but life happens”

Code for: this isn’t what I signed up for

Code for: the hell i’m going through ain’t worth the dividends.

 

When you found out, you cheered

Quickly shushed and having the grace to look remorseful

You said “i mean, she was too soft”.

 

Why do we have to be hard to get your attention?

Preparing for battle, helmet against the

Thoughts that tell us we suck at this, that we make no difference.

Breastplate guarding from the arrows of disrespect and disdain?

 

This is one long metaphor about contributions from self to our own inequality/

 

Bad enough that the building leaks, that mice reside within its walls

That antiquated tampon machines painted shut still chillin’ in the bathrooms

As heralds to how long these walls have stood.

Bad enough that bars crisscross windows from the outside and half of

The windows house bolts to keep the bad guys out.

 

These are the things we can’t control

The rolls of dice, the unfortunate of luck

“The price on the menu of attending a city school”.

 

But what of the typeset on the bathroom stall?

BICTH written in robotic text?

What of the throwing of hands and the insults disguised as greetings?

What of the taking pride in making people cry?

What of the mistreatment of those stalwart and crazy in love enough to teach you?

 

You are inhabitants of a world where your zip code and your melanin gives others

Reason to hate you

At the very least, reason to assume they know you

You MUST be handled roughly. It is all you know. You don’t have feelings.

In the classrooms down the street they are referred to as “friends”,

In singsongy voices full of pride and sugar

In here, your friends call you dummy without flinching.

Those with a birds eye view think that you are savage, as are your friends,

As is your family. You are step above beast.

We tell dogs to heel. We order you to sit.

Believe me when I say it shouldn’t have to be like this.

Who looked at you and decided that you are incapable of reason?

That you don’t deserve logic? That you are beyond love?

Worse yet, when did you start to believe it too?

 

When someone doesn’t believe that they can handle your fire, let them go.

But mourn a little bit at the flower that didn’t get to grow.

Get a little angry that people go in and out of your life like

Plastic horses on a carousel. At your age, unfortunately loss feels familiar.

But do not rejoice. Accept, but do not congratulate.

You are worth so much more than ephemeral and sometimes.

Between The Rock and a Hard Place

It occurred to me twice this week
that I ran my hand along the bottom hem of old shirts and found
a hole.
Nothing major, worth concern
Except that it was…see I’d managed to put holes in my clothes
From pathologically tugging and pulling
trying to become unseen.

We all have those things that we do without even trying
Some twist hair into intricate curlicues
Some “…like…” and “…um..”
During conversations formal and non
Not because they don’t know answers
but rather because the world taught them that to be
a woman self assured was to be dangerous.
I…I’ve tugged  on shirts and sweaters
Rarely in the past did I like the way I wore them
Clothes were nothing but a draping on a body
that I fed in shame, sadness, and boredom
Unable to speak my feelings, so I baked them away
In midnight hours
Cooking major meals thirty minutes before bed
Knowing that a healthy cutoff was 3 hours and
just as many self deprecating thoughts ago.

I stopped with the realization of how far I’d come
How much I’d come to love me since I came to love the Son
Still on this journey
Call this stuck between The Rock and a hard place
A glance backward at the hate
A look forward at how His love erases shame
There isn’t a mistake that I can make
Or a pound that I can gain
That can overshadow his Calvary
That can mimic His pain
You mean to tell me Lord
That when you hung you did so
So I’d never have to question my creation again?

What has had you stuck?
Between self harm and healing
Between subjugation and victory
Between hiding your face behind your hair and showing your face for all to see?
Is your hard place regret
Is it racing to stay so busy that you forget that you aren’t married yet?
Is it questioning His judgement
Is it doubting how much He cares
Is it getting frustrated and not stopping for prayer
Because you really don’t get why He hasn’t intervened if He’s there?
Let me remind you that THE ROCK is waiting for you
From Him comes your help
You weren’t made then forgotten
You weren’t destined for the shelf.

OH….How He loves you.

So now, if I come across a shirt
With the tiniest of holes in the hem across the bottom
They serve as reminders that the Lord of all is
sovereign over my insecurities
Not the destruction of cotton
Rest assured that whatever your hard place
The Rock is able and He got them….

Psalm 139:14