SAFELY TONIGHT, OR EVERY WOMAN'S BLUES
after Beckian Fritz Goldberg
“She herself is ready/ at a moment's notice to/ swallow the capsule/ she holds beneath her tongue/ like a secret. Men/ call her dangerous.”
– Maureen Seaton, in “The Runner”
I have a mother telling me
not to be afraid and
a mother telling me not to write
at night. I have a best friend
wanting to come home safely tonight
and a best friend wanting
to be a man tonight.
Nights here aren't any woman's thing.
Nights here have a moon white as danger and
white eyes shining in a bush
collecting light. I have this bush
and some more, right across my street,
skulking low like they're bending down to eat.
I have men hiding all down
my street. Nights like these
I want a frying pan and something to beat.
I want something to kick or set loose
on the street. Nights like these
I don't like anybody
looking at me and I walk anywhere
I like. I don't even like you tonight.
Don't like your pill. Don't like
your tongue. Hate your giving in,
how you sense this danger like
some weathervane, watch from
a bridge, as it rises, then the flood.
Don't swallow. I need you.
This poem will be a funeral
if you're raped Don't swallow,
come over some time, and
step in, for this is your lover.
Strap yourself on, this is your
perfect season. Uncross your legs,
this is me you're talking to.
This poem wants you to know how it's captured,
how it wants its thigh free, how
it wants those men, every one, strung out
of their hideouts, their shrubs, and their tree,
wants to keep you alive, and wants you to run
at night. This poem wants to make
no sense, wanting not to cry,
to never end, wanting still to be a man
tonight. This poem wants a mask and
a shovel tonight, wants to come
full circle and
win tonight. This poem needs you.
Come, there's no foyer,
just creases here where I've stood up,
where the morning's come unstuck,
and the bushes, for the meantime, are cleaned up.
Karen Schnurstein is a budding poet whose recent work has appeared in print and online publications including Bi Women Quarterly. She holds a B.A. in Creative Writing from Western Michigan University and resides in Indiana. You can find her on Instagram @karenschnurstein or on her website at https://www.karenschnurstein.info/