Facing Up

You’re looking past her
avoiding her eyes,
the eyes of the woman
in the front line of the protest
the one who reminds you of your mother
or your mother in law
or your grandmother
or all of them together.
You don’t need to look at her,
don’t need to meet the challenge
of her eyes,
you have the power
you have the choice
to look past her.
You can do anything
so long as you don’t face her
so long as you don’t cower
you have the power.
You know it
when you collect your pay check
when you slither on your belly
in the wet fetid gutter
to collect your police pay check
and take it home
to your wife
or mother
or grandmother
ready to meet her eyes proudly
if only you could open the door
if only she would open the door
if only she would let you in
if only your key would still fit her lock
if only she would still look in your eyes.
But she has the power to look past you.
She knows it.
She knew it then.
You know it now.


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