“Yet another story” of a black woman “getting shafted by white women” knocks the poet off her feet, literally, and she rises to the continuing struggle.

Portside Culture

 

Kathy Engel

“Yet another story” of a black woman “getting shafted by white women” knocks the poet off her feet, literally, and she rises to the continuing struggle.

,

 

Falling

By Kathy Engel

over a box in my office

hard and awkward, bending

my arm, yelled at two sweet

students who came running in:

I’m fine! I’m fine! (Get out!)

I fell perhaps because

I’m getting older, because 

I was rushing, not paying

attention, or empathy for

Jessie who fell the day before,

perhaps because I’m tired.

All my body knew after

falling was that I’d just

heard yet another story

from someone I call sister

who is a black woman in

America about doing big

work then getting shafted

by white women. I’ve 

witnessed these stories, no 

doubt somehow, sometime 

in some way have been

complicit, even if by not 

standing strong enough, 

speaking loud enough or 

not at all, not trusting what 

I deeply know. I thought

maybe I should retire early

to open a space for a black

woman; it's fact that in

universities more women

of color are teased with adjunct

or visiting carrot than offered

full course meal. Maybe I fell

because no part of me knows

what theory, art making or 

structure will adequately 

address the unforgiveable. 

So I fall. And get up. Not 

alone. Along with the stories

my body plants,

carries

and hoards. 

 

Kathy Engel is a poet and cultural worker whose books include Banish the Tentative, Ruth's Skirts, and with artist German Perez, The Kitchen. She co-edited We Begin Here: Poems for Palestine and Lebanon with Kamal Boullata and was a co-founder of Poets For Ayiti. She has co-founded, directed and consulted for numerous cultural and social justice projects including MADRE, Riptide Communications, Stand With Sisters For Economic Dignity, East End Women in Black, the Women in Prison Project, to name a few. Her new book of poems, The Lost Brother Alphabet, will appear with Get Fresh Books in March, 2020. She is currently Chair and Associate Arts Professor in the Dept. of Art & Public Policy, Tisch School of the Arts, NYU.

 

 
 

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