Donna Kate Rushin

I've had a complicated relationship with poetry. I remember being so proud when I wrote a poem that garnered praise from a teacher I respected in grade school. But that same poem was rejected from my high school literary magazine. In subsequent years, I did publish in that magazine and the school newspaper as well. But what I considered poetry seemed never to fit in with what I was told constituted poetry. The words and rhythms that appealed to me were never quite right. So I hesitate to examine poetry.

Donna Kate Rushin's "The Bridge Poem" does appeal to me. But I'm not sure if it appeals to me in the right way. I smile at the line "Sick of being the sole Black friend to 34 individual white people." When I was in grade school, there might have been, at most, two black kids out of over 300 in grades K through 8. And they weren't in my grade and they didn't stay for more than a year or two. My high school was better. But that image sticks out. It's like most media, most television. One minority, no more, for every 50 white people. An exaggeration, perhaps, but also a truth.
I am sick
Of having to remind you
To breathe
Before you suffocate
Your own fool self
 Rushin feels the burden of being a bridge for others. A bridge walked upon and used without regard to its feelings. As if she were an object, a use-thing, rather than a person who has other ways to use that power of translation. Interesting how she has power, this power to bridge, and, perhaps out of fear, that power makes others try to reduce her to that bridge object.

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