"The Bridge Poem" from The Black Back-Ups: Poetry by Kate Rushin (Ann Arbor, MI: Firebrand Books, 1993). Permission pending.
I've had enough.
I'm sick of seeing and touching
both side 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 littler 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 the parents of
Then I've got to explain myself
I do more translating than the U.N.
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.
The odd one at your Sunday Brunches.
I am sick of being the sole Black friend to
thirty-four Individual White folks.
Find another connection to the rest of the world.
Something else to make you legitimate.
Some other way to be political and hip.
I will not be the bridge to your womanhood
I'm sick of reminding you not to
close off too tight for too long
Sick of mediating with your worst self
on behalf of your better selves
Sick of having to remind you
to breathe before you
suffocate your own fool self.
Stretch or drown.
Evolve or die.
it's like this:
The bridge I must be
is the bridge to my own power.
I must translate
my own fears.
my own weaknesses.
I must be the bridge to nowhere
but my own true self.
It's only then
I can be