Subtle it was.
Right or wrong
it was my opinion,
Subtle it was in
the authoritative response that
I never saw coming,
not till I heard what
had now been done
in front of witnesses,
who sat and watched
like a recital crowd.
She spoke from out of
the status she had,
out of her elevated position that
she had always enjoyed,
and she thought her truth was right.
they always do…
The words dropped cold: not
“my opinion is…”, like
a colleague that can disagree,
and we can open debate,
but from on high. She uttered
the words, “I don’t think you can…”,
like a censure to my utterance, a speaking down
from a royal box that I will
never see through.
It hung heavy over me
and a tearing down of
any expertise I might dare to offer,
and the silence was telling,
and the pretense went on.
as it always does,
as it ever will.
At least that’s my recollection,
of the fall of the words and
the space that followed.
I censure myself that I am
probably wrong from the
perspective of the courtyard
of my tiny life.
So there it is, you see, and I
ask myself this: did I just imagine the fall,
like a soppy, sensitive fool too
concerned with his own subjectivity
as he looks beyond to the lights above?
And the answer came back, maybe,
and then no.
It was there between the words,
a texture that crackled in my head,
from someone used to seeing these
theatre plays, these institutional games
of hierarchies, policies and positions,
with their clever nuancing of discourse
and subtle shifts of tone,
that could never be signed as bullying,
just games of power with words that have
always been played,
and I now
play the victim.
Foucault is stirring in his grave.
…and I wish,
yes I wish,
that I had pushed back,
and taken this big old heart of mine
in my sweaty little hands and squeezed it
and held my fragile dignity as a prize
on this most ordinary of days.