Vernellia Randall
Speaking Truth to Power


The Bridge Poem

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Vernellia's Note: Since I have been adult, (especially as an African American  woman professional) it seems like my whole life is centered  around being a bridge between groups that can't seem to communicate directly. About two years ago, my friend Kim O'Leary (who was a former colleague here at the University of Dayton and who teaches at Thomas Cooley Law School) gave me a book This Bridge called by Back, Writings by Radical Women of Color. In it I read The Bridge Poem, by Donna Kate Ruskin.
 

All I could say was  Hallelujah!! Amen!


 

The Bridge Poem
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 the 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 human-ness 

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 breath
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. 

 

 

 

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