Maybe When They Say Get Over It
They mean climb the foothills of your hometown. The tallest one, where some teenage
boys stuck one of their mothers gardening sticks into the summit, a torn jersey as a flag.
Sit there, dry mouthed, and think of the only boy who has made you feel safe, a kid who
was always ashamed of the children around him, and himself.
His shame can’t sit with you here. He doesn’t exist in the California sun. When you look
out over it see that it is not small. It is sprawling. It is suburbia. It is the normalcy you
cannot escape with a pair of dusty tennis shoes. It is the homes of all the men who made
you feel afraid. Their lights are on, unashamed in their bright stucco.
And you feel badly for them. That their tears never hit carpet when they knew they’d
done the wrong thing. Something small, like hitting someone you thought was your
friend and immediately knowing you shouldn’t have. Being asked to say you’re sorry, to
look into the girls eyes and see that she was sorry for what she called you on the
playground too. To talk to your mom about why that behavior hurts. Why we should
never hurt someone, not if we can help it. That fear is a teacher and we should listen but
it takes time to digest its lessons.
Those men in their bone-dry houses let the tears they should’ve cried pool in their
backyards. They make them a water feature for their children to drown in.
And you feel badly for them, but you do not feel like you owe them.
They owe you, their shame and apology a small penance.
Maybe when they say get over it they mean gain perspective.
They mean understand how big it is.
They mean be overwhelmed by it.
They mean go back to it.
They mean buy a can of gas.
They mean set those towns on fire.
Caitlin McKenzie is a queer poet and collage artist based out of Barrie, ON. She grew up in Southern California, and her work is deeply rooted in place and what meaning the backdrop of your life takes on. Other works can be seen in Pink Plastic House Magazine, The Northern Appeal, and The Aurora Journal.