The Interview

I want to tell you about me,
about the sour smell of penury ,
about loving but not telling,
about fear, about being a woman,
about things not in my file,
but you know all that without even shaking my hand,
my lowered eyes, my dress, my hesitant gait,
my accented hello, what gave me away,
the unease flickers like a second iris in your cold eye,
pulls quickly at your limp palm, holds back that unborn smile,
you cross your arms across your pinstriped suit
and I wonder which me your first word will break,
I see patterns on the carpet,
and rearrange my bones, my genes,
my tongue, my breasts,
align my birth to your contempt,
but I needn’t have worried
you had already swept me away,
my identity hovered briefly on a dust pan,
before the paisley motifs on the floor
became my shroud,
my muffled breath had not enough left
to ask which me you wanted to bury first.

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52 thoughts on “The Interview

  1. This is soo incredibly powerful and vivid! Especially; “the unease flickers like a second iris in your cold eye,pulls quickly at your limp palm, holds back that unborn smile,you cross your arms across your pinstriped suit and I wonder which me your first word will break” took my breath away!

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  2. “my identity hovered briefly on a dust pan,
    before the paisley motifs on the floor
    became my shroud,”….story of many a soul…it’s really heartening to read your poems again…missed you all…

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  3. This is amazing. Being American, I of course thought of the Misogynist-in-chief, but this powerfully describes an (unfortunately) universally phenomenon. The feeling of being dissected until there is nothing left is just so well conveyed.

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  4. Powerful poem, all this stress at interview plus this harassing attitude without words… I like your killing last line especially: ‘which me you wanted to bury first.’ Never ‘rearrange’ your truth..not for anyone.

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    1. Thanks so much Sherry. When I worked with a disability non-profit the social workers used to say that poverty, disability and gender work as a triple whammy against a woman in that situation. Where does one even begin the battle!

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  5. This is such a touching reveal of vulnerability. It reminded me of one of my favorite quotes by Eleanor Roosevelt. “No one can make you feel inferior unless you allow it”. Beautiful write!

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    1. Yes that is a beautiful quote and yet the spirit of these brave women is smothered by the level of prejudice from multiple quarters. But one must fight the good fight..what other choice is there. Thanks Beverly.

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  6. Personally, I was outraged on behalf of your speaker. No one deserves this type of social dismissal, yet it goes on everyday, everywhere. We preach kindness and love, but it seldom goes beyond the words. I believe this is one of the most important poems I have ever read and do hope you will seek to have it published, not just here on your blog. How can we build a world of peace and acceptance, while holding ourselves and others unaccountable for these everyday denigrations, based in some idea that somehow we are better than anyone else?

    Elizabeth

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    1. Thanks Elizabeth. You are absolutely right. That sense of being elevated because of gender, class, colour, economics or geography has no place in society but it has become so ingrained into the social fabric that people simply think they are entitled to it. We live in a lopsided world and it is no fun for the people who are vulnerable to such nonsense.

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  7. Fantastic! You nailed being made to feel small or invisible. I love the line about rearranging your bones and genes for arms folded in pinstripes.

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  8. So relevant….beautifully written…

    the unease flickers like a second iris in your cold eye,
    pulls quickly at your limp palm, holds back that unborn smile,
    you cross your arms across your pinstriped suit
    and I wonder which me your first word will break……….great lines!

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  9. “. . . I wonder which me your first word will break . . . ” You’d think this would all vanish with intense education–in both women and men–but I can attest to the fact that it only gets worse. I’m with the paisley motif and wishing it didn’t matter. it does. It takes so much energy to survive. Brilliant.

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    1. Thank you Susan… have experienced both the gender and colour prejudice.. know for sure that things may be improving of late but there’s still a very long way to go.

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