Thursday, April 04, 2019

GloPoWriMo Day 2: Taking Up Space


Write a poem that similarly resists closure by ending on a question, inviting the reader to continue the process of reading (and, in some ways, writing) the poem even after the poem ends.

TAKING UP SPACE

I realise that I am afraid of taking up space
Forty minutes into a three-hour train journey
After my male seatmate casually spills his thigh
Into my space and onto half my seat.

The angry discomfort makes me shrink:
A slug sprinkled with salt.
I am a sheet of paper origami-folded again and again
Reduced, transformed to accommodate.

I have been taught to be small
To diminish in the face of violation
I have been taught to disappear.

A woman is a guerrilla: she shapes her own space
Where none is allotted.

But how does a woman shape space for herself
In a world where she’s told
To take up less room mentally and physically
To cut herself down to a thin wedge
Barely holding the air open to breathe?

My seatmate’s thigh is still in my seat.
I push back. Settle into the space deliberately.
Rinse, repeat. Finally he moves.
Small victories.

How many more times must I cut the air open
To carve out a permanent space
That will hold the full sum of me?

5 comments:

Merril D. Smtih said...

Well put! Women are often taught to be small and to not complain.
(I'm writing a reference book on sexual harassment now.)

Kerfe said...

This is a scene that's repeated again and again. Manspreading to go along with manspaining. It's hard to speak up when you've been taught to be quiet though. Perhaps our daughters...

Ileea said...

Wow, this is amazing. So powerful (and alas, so familiar thoughts, feelings and situations). The image of oneself shrinking like a snail sprinkled with salt was my favourite.

Shuku said...

Merril: Yes we ARE aren't we? We're always told not to make a fuss about things, but in reality, why SHOULD we be small? We can't even take up space with our bodies, we're told that 'fat girls are bad'. It's just criminal.

Kerfe: Our daughters, yes. For the sake of our daughters. Learning to speak up is haaaaard, I get you! I still have trouble with it myself.

Ileea: It's a global epidemic, looks like! And aww, thank you re: slugs and salt. I don't know why it came to mind, it just seemed to fit...

Angela van Son said...

This:
I am a sheet of paper origami-folded again and again
Reduced, transformed to accommodate.

And then this:
But how does a woman shape space for herself
In a world where she’s told
To take up less room mentally and physically
To cut herself down to a thin wedge
Barely holding the air open to breathe?

I know I've told you this before, but I'll say it again: I love your writing and the power of it!