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Excerpt: 'One with Others'

One with Others

I take one more drive across town thinking about the retired welding teacher easing over that rise seeing the parking lot full of white men. I wonder if he thought he would die in the jungle [where no Vietcong ever called him [N-word] ] or he would die in front of the bowling alley [without ever having been inside] or die in the swimming pool [without ever having been in it, except when drained, and the police had him in their sights]. Or if, because he was a young man, he would never die. I attach V to my driving-around thoughts.

An object unworthy of love she thought she was.

It was a cri de coeur.

Those of our get had given her a nom de guerre: V.

A simple act, to join a march against fear

down an old military road.

We were watching an old movie the night

the table started walking toward us

and there was trouble on Division.

She became a disaffiliated member [of her race].

I'm one of them now, she said, upon release

from jail. I am an Invader.

To feel in conjunction with the changes

of my time. The most alive I've ever been.

My body lifted itself from the chair

it walked to where I saw a silent crowd.

To act, just to act. That is the glorious thing.

Yet it has come to my attention that a whisper campaign

has been directed against the main character,

an invisible woman. She could have buried her feelings

like power lines; walked around free

and common as the air that bathes the globe or

sued the chickenshits and gone to live in Provence

smelling of Gauloises and cafe au lait. You have your life

until you use it. You forfeit the only life you know

or go to your grave with the song curdled inside you.

No more damned if you did and damned if you didn't.

Excerpted from One with Others: [a little book of her days] by C.D. Wright Copyright 2010 by C.D. Wright. Excerpted by permission of Copper Canyon Press.

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C.D. Wright