Last night was the inaugural gathering for the Sister Citizen book club. It was magical, affirming and right on time! Together, we read one of my favorite poems - that is also featured in Sister Citizen... The Bridge Poem by Donna Kate Ruskin (originally published in the anthology This Bridge Called My Back in 1983).
Who/what/where are you a bridge to?
The Bridge Poem
by Donna Kate Ruskin
I’ve had enough I’m sick of seeing and touching Both sides of things Sick of being the damn bridge for everybody
Nobody Can talk to anybody Without me Right?
I explain my mother to my father my father to my little sister My little sister to my brother my brother to the white feminists The white feminists to the Black church folks the Black church folks to the ex-hippies the ex-hippies to the Black separatists the Black separatists to the artists the artists to my friends’ parents…
Then I’ve got to explain myself To everybody
I do more translating Than the Gawdamn U.N.
Forget it I’m sick of it.
I’m sick of filling in your gaps
Sick of being your insurance against the isolation of your self-imposed limitations
Sick of being the crazy at your holiday dinners
Sick of being the odd one at your Sunday Brunches
Sick of being the sole Black friend to 34 individual white people
Find another connection to the rest of the world Find something else to make you legitimate Find some other way to be political and hip
I will not be the bridge to your womanhood Your manhood Your humanness
I’m sick of reminding you not to Close off too tight for too long
I’m sick of mediating with your worst self On behalf of your better selves
I am sick Of having to remind you To breathe Before you suffocate Your own fool self
Forget it Stretch or drown Evolve or die
The bridge I must be Is the bridge to my own power I must translate My own fears Mediate My own weaknesses
I must be the bridge to nowhere But my true self And then I will be useful