Safe From Me
somedays it isn’t safe
for me to be seen in public
not safe for others I mean
the welfare of others
has to be considered
when a glance from a male
can become triggering
send someone spinning
into painful childhood memories
my mere looking where I am going
can send people off
I never ask how are you doing
lest that appears to be disrespect
for their boundary issues
I won’t compliment your appearance
never talk about my happy childhood
because it seems by doing so
I’m am diminishing
what you experienced in yours
I get tired of negotiating permission
to continue a conversation
is it okay if I talk about ….
negotiating to avoid making
it isn’t wise to assume
that just because they are a clerk
that they have to be of service
I haven’t left my house
for years now
it’s the easiest way
of keeping the world safe
There some real-life experiences in this piece. Once when dodging people on a busy street I stopped to let someone pass me & that someone said ‘What the fuck are you looking at!’ I shrugged & kept on my way. I’ve seen similar confrontations on the subway – people snapping ‘stop looking at me like that’ – this is why most people now stare at their cellphones – it’s less intrusive to bump into people because you aren’t looking where you’re going than it is to look where you are going.
A few years ago, on an open stage & read a poem about my Dad – about finding gifts he has hidden before he died, not knowing he was going to die. After the show I was accosted for not issuing a trigger warning before I had a poem about my father. The last time I read it I did it with a trigger warning & someone accosted me after for making fun of trigger warnings. You wonder why I shun open stages.
When someone says ‘I don’t want to talk about …’ I respect that but then am leery of what to say when they continue to talk about it. Is it my job to change the subject or say ‘You said we weren’t going to talk about that.’ As I’ve often said here people will talk about whatever they want even when they ask ‘how are you?’ They are preparing what they want to tell you about themselves. A good reason I never really start conversations about myself. One of the good things, to me. about social distancing is an end to negotiating permission for hugs.
Unlike that last verse I leave my house regularly. I have no fear of being in pubic, in public places -one my morning walks I rarely see anyone anyway & the only negotiation is social distancing. In recovery I’ve learned the balance of conversation – I listen without the need to develop a response.
When people ask me what I’ve been doing I resist going into details about my writing, my sex life. I fall back on generalities ‘pandemic purging’ being a good fall back – because it has been something I’ve been doing. One thing that I purged years ago is guilt for inadvertently triggering someone.