I wrote this poem two decades ago, and thought I’d share it with you. It really caught how awkward it can feel to be going through a transition when everyone else around you seems solid, beefy, and assured. At the time, I felt so ashamed of who I was, even while I was beginning to embrace my true adventure.
Today, I’m so proud of that woman who didn’t have all the answers, but who asked the questions…and got me here. I’m proud of you too. And here’s what I want you to know. Don’t let other people’s silence, silence you. Just because they don’t know how to relate, doesn’t mean you’re doing something foolish. The bold usually have no compatriots. The inspired can threaten the mundane. Walk your walk. Let it substitute for talk.
(I apologize in advance if this poem seems to be negative towards men. At the time I was a litigator and surrounded by male colleagues.)
Awkward Cocktail Party Blues
It is not in me to remain quiet, stolid, dignified.
I answer party questions as if they were the questions at the end of my life.
I begin in colors, then dribble into shades…
while men in suits rattle their scotch and bore into my eyes.
They never answer likewise.
It is yes, no, fine, alright
as if three syllables comprehends the totality, the mystery.
They stand straight and steady and leave their hands at their sides
while mine fly like butterflies all about the room.
Am I crazy?
Or am I the beginnings of a garden
pushing through the soil?
as old comrades nod their heads at me,
or out of courtesy
do they see madness, dirt, or shimmers and shoots of green?
Funny, I am budding as never before,
but these great men
look down from great heights,
recrimination in their hearts,
tell their wives at night
what a shame, what a shame
a fallen one
she had such potential.