The Fear

i can’t write tonight

i can’t write because my throat has closed, my voice is bubbling beneath the surface, clogged by my own privilege and fear

i can’t write because i’m not sure i’m the one you should be hearing from

the world is angry and the headlines are scary and i’m watching, listening, waiting for this moment that i might be able to step into and i see it and my throat is closing and my voice is bubbling and my mind goes blank

and i go to school and i go to work and i watch my voice and i make myself smaller in case it isn’t me who should be speaking and i argue that it’s because i’m female, because it’s expected, because no one would listen anyway, but i don’t even try

because if i try, if i throw myself into the space between the chairs, if i introduce myself to the group; my name, my baggage, my story, i may never be able to climb back in

because if i try, i may become yet another stain on that hypnotizing carpet, i may become another headline, another click-bait article that defines me by my gender, by my skin tone, by my presumed financial status

because if i try and i fail, i’m just the same as everyone else, and i was right not to write, not to tell you what i thought because my thoughts aren’t complete yet, they’re not stable, they waver and wobble between time zones and memories and experiences i’m not sure i remember

i can’t write because i’ll watch you read it in my mind’s eye and i’ll imagine you critique my soul laid bare across the hot stone coals we walk each day, those same coals we watch each other stumble over and still don’t quite hold our hands out far enough to catch the fall

i can’t write tonight because i can’t stand to watch myself fall knowing you may not catch me.

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