My happiness was bubbling, I was on my bike again
No longer did I worry that my knee would snap and bend
I’d cycled several metres when I hit some broken glass –
Foreshadowing the people that I couldn’t cycle past.
I heard him first from faraway. It’s hard to miss that tone
The one that breaks into the night and makes you wish for home
I saw her then across the street. His gesture was a fist
A surge of panic rose within, this man was surely pissed
I watched in shock as 3 friends stood aside and down the road
As if this was just ‘another tiff’, and it wasn’t their Place to Impose
So I watched as the girl stood in silence, alone
As her boyfriend screamed into her face
And he told her to “shut the fuck up bitch I told you”, or he’d put her back into her place.
Little green man was lit, I was riding across, there I knew what my action would be
And I pulled up aside in my red floral dress… and where there was two, now was three.
But for just a quick moment I hated myself for engaging in what was not mine –
Then my courage returned like a jury spurred on by the potent injustice of crime
And I drew on the women in my life who’ve taken abuse at the hand of a man
“Are you OK?” I said to his back while his girlfriend cried into her hand.
Despite all the practice of centering self all my hackles were raised as he turned
to spit in my face “WHAT THE FUCK DO YOU WANT?!”
I stood bluffing, to seem unperturbed.
It was interesting. Holding his gaze was to call upon every. calm. cell. in my being.
But in those short few seconds I saw fire dampened by someone just sitting there, seeing.
He repeated his question, with less force but still force enough to dictate I’d be going
So I also repeated my question, imbuing my words with compassion and knowing.
And I saw this distraction from anger in action did soften his furious features
It’s so funny. Interactions with people on streets sometimes turn out to be the best teachers
Then I looked at the girl and saw shame in her tears and a sadness that this was a norm
And I cursed at the world that I had to encounter this violence in such common form
I felt 15 seconds was longer than weeks and I sensed my own tether was tight
By this time, 3 drunk men had caught up, deciding to yell and run after my bike
Instead of addressing depressing domestics in streets they put salt in the wound
And I spat on the ground and felt utterly shit that my courage imploded too soon
That this man in my face was abrasive enough to elicit a shuddering fear
Made me question how flimsy my stopping had been – sweet self deprecation had reared
Then I got home and chucked off my bag on the table and felt my whole thought process shift
Here I am feeling shit about stopping and caring and trying to settle that rift
Ain’t no man in a street will defeat my achievements of trying to live here and now
Holy shit look at what I can do with my body, I hula hoop with a big crowd
And I write when I can and I laugh more than most and I try to be good to the Earth
And I’m grateful for love and I’m happy to breathe and I’m thankful for my fleshy birth
There I realised that even though voices are loud one can win with a silence in sound
For the conquered are noisy and the angry lack vim, but the happy can never be bound.