I wrote this poem in college for a creative writing class. I shared it with some of my male friends, and was shocked when they were shocked by it. I had no idea they didn’t experience the hyper-vigilance I did. They had no idea that every woman in my creative writing class recognized the experience I wrote about. The guys understood the emotions – but associated them with dark alleys behind bars in very bad parts of cities. I was writing about their neighborhood – our neighborhood – just off campus, and the short walks by myself from their apartment to my house after we’d hung out at their apartment and watched a movie together.
It’s a college poem. I’m posting it now because I think it contributes something to the conversation right now – #YesAllWomen.
and I can feel my ears prick back,
an ancient instinct caught in muscle – click,
clack, my heels hit pavement, a tattoo
my heart echoes double-triple time
as shadows screen their phantoms and threats and
or just a bush.
Wrapped in darkness,
despite the endless rants to keep to well-lit walkways where
I feel exposed,
in the streetlight with my sweatshirt and long hair,
my sidewalk silhouette
out of the night.