A Journey Of A Thousand Miles Begins With A Spinach Salad

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By Rachel Brown


The longest trip I took this summer
Started at 2nd and Market, in Old City,

where I flirted with my parents
and cried over my spinach.

My father said they had some news.
“You’re pregnant,”

popped out, because everyone
was, or had been;

Benjamin and Hadass, a storyteller,
who decided to have a bris,

or had a bris without deciding;
Shula and Daniel, both rabbis,

who will not have a bris.
Helen, my friend since elementary school,

who is married in Christ to her husband Pete,
at whose wedding we danced the polka;

the couple I canned peaches with
before they moved to California.

But my parents are not
among these couples.

My father is dying.
During phone calls he doodles tight ovals

crowded against each other
traveling across stray envelopes.

In college he trained to be a sculptor
until he had an internship with Henry Moore.

Moore was always sketching and my father
did not want to draw. That left the soup spoon

as the only outlet
for the energy in his hands.

He turned it over and over with an easy grace.
The longest trip I took this summer

started when I put out my hand across the table
on top of my father’s hand, over the spoon,

and with his other hand he reached
for my mother to join us

as if, in a deep pit,
we were making a pact:

We would dig ourselves out
one mouthful at a time.

For pissed off sake.

>I’m seriously steamed right now.

I spent the weekend in an intense training getting ready to start teaching writing classes again. It was pretty emotionally exhausting, but also really fulfilling. A large part of the training was devoted to talking about how to bring up teachable moments in class re: oppression. Now, we all know that this subject matter can bring up some really painful and difficult discussions. There isn’t any where to land, because the conversation has to continue..forever.
Now, I’m not known as being particularly PC in my queer circle, but I sometimes forget that in the larger gay world (and the straight world), I’m seen as completely radical.
I think that, since the training, I am feeling hyper sensitive to moments of oppression within my community, and also, I’m trying not to shame myself about feeling like shits fucked up. So, when I saw an acquaintance of mine post an article about a woman being assaulted in my city when she was out jogging late at night under the headline “Why was she out jogging at 2am anyway?!” I flipped the fuck out.
The person who posted the link is a gay cis-gendered man. While it wouldn’t be okay for this type of woman bashing to come from anyone, for some reason it really gets under my skin when it comes from the cis-male gay population. I’ve experienced a lot of this kind of talk from this particular community, and a lot of weird reasoning around it. Reasoning that says that because the person who is saying sexist shit is gay, its okay for them to talk about women this way.
I think I have a lot more to say about this interaction, but for now I’m going to try and calm down, and take some perspective before I write any more.