Arleen Paré Literature Poetry

December 6, 1989

by Arleen Paré

ask yourself how you bear this state   everyday   this chromosomal state of x and x   like the day you step from the number 17   cross the street   up the concrete steps  faster  along the everyday academic corridor into the university classroom   late   and a boy with a semi-automatic rushes in and starts shooting   starts shouting   a December everyday  the sixth  says he hates women   or says he hates feminists   he tells the men in the classroom to leave   and they do   and then he shoots   round after round   you are all shot  the x on your sweater fronts marks you  you bear this state of target   and in the news your mothers cry for you and your sisters cry and your aunts and girlfriends cry    you are every woman in the city  this December everyday    the hard-packed snow still moans beneath your everywoman boots as you hunch home from your job as a nanny or your job in a greasy spoon dishing poutine and gravy   you ask yourself how you bear it

you are every woman   you understand warnings   by your parents  don’t take candy  don’t expect too much  by your husband in the kitchen when you arrive late with the kids from daycare and the groceries and set the bags on your counter and he says  see what happens  what did they expect

how you bear it  ask yourself why  you are in all the cities  you are up and down fence-bound laced-up country lanes  you are on wailing beaten coastlines  on islands  in shiploads of refugees  in prisons  in bedrooms  on streets pacing for the next trick   you bear it   the state of want   the state of use   the state of disrespect of ridicule of wishing you were dead  ask yourself why  and if no good answer comes

tear down every poster every newsstand every high-tension wire every bill board every high-rise  every highway sign leading out of town  every aeroplane in the sky  every high and mighty penthouse hotel every bar and grill  tear up every alley where you were hurt  every research paper that described you and got it wrong  every house that trapped you  every letter  every spite  every thought that thought you less  every x and y with too much breath in your face  or too much blade at your throat  every shout  every temper  every gust of grit around your feet  every car parked outside your door  every doorway  every bank every bonnet  every promise  every classroom   every boy with a semi-automatic under his right arm  rushing in  yelling freeze  just before you do


Walk Myself Home: An Anthology to End Violence Against WomenThis poem first appeared in Walk Myself Home: An Anthology to End Violence Against Women (Caitlin Press, 2010), and is posted here with permission from the author and publisher.