“You’re not supposed to be doing that.”
His feet are in the seat of the swing,
Grub fingers squirmed around chains, pitching back
And forth like a marionette on breaking strings.
He crows back at me, “You’re not the teacher
And you can’t tell me what to do.”
I stomp away, a yowling spray of woodchips later
Tells me my warning came true.
The years pass, and there’s no more recess,
But there are new places I can be ignored.
At a party, someone says, “Hold my beer, watch this!”
I pipe up, “Are you serious? You’ll smash your head on the floor.”
“Don’t be such a bitch, I’m gonna fucking nail it.”
By now I know better than to talk back.
Clear some room for the backflip—floor’s wet, he’s flailing—
He groans and rolls over—scalp skin split clean down the back.
In every classroom that I’ve ever been in,
I’ve heard, “I can’t hear you”, “Could you speak up please”
But every unsteady answer I give is stolen,
By golden boys with louder voices and unshaking knees.
“I think what she meant is—” No. That’s not even close.
And, for the record, I didn’t ask you to translate me.
I know what I’m saying, and I know what I know,
Just because I’m quiet doesn’t mean you get to shout over me.
“You’re not the teacher”, “Don’t be such a bitch”.
Maybe not, and maybe a bitch is what I am.
But I’m the bitch who’s always right, bitch.
And if you listened closer, maybe you’d understand:
I’m not a mouse, I’m Cassandra. I won’t scream for you.
Instead of me getting louder, how about you quiet down?
I won’t change myself just because you want me to.
Heed my warnings—or not. I’ve already seen how you drown.