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Human Flaw with History

A fresh new poem by Beth Woodcome Platow

Human Flaw with History

Beth Woodcome Platow


A man stops me on Mass. Ave.
and asks me to sign something,
give something, listen to something.
Cars pass, people pass, I pass.
He says, You just a white girl scared of black men.
I can make it so that this never happened,
or always happens. I have all the options
to walk away from this, or turn around
and say, I’m sorry, which is what my German
husband does when he meets someone
Jewish—not entirely because of guilt,
but because of history, responsibility.
Instead I lie, and say, No, I’m not scared,
and I keep walking and walking
and walking and walking
with the man at my back for the rest
of my life because I didn’t explain
that I wasn’t scared he’d hurt me
but scared to talk about how I might hurt him
by walking away, which is what we so often do.

 

 

 

 

 

 


beth-woodcome-platow

Beth Woodcome Platow has published poems in Ploughshares, AGNI, Harvard Review, Gulf Coast, and The Drumamong other journals. She received the Grolier Prize, the PEN/New England Discovery Award, and the Beyond Baroque Poetry Prize. Her manuscript, Little Myths, won the 2013 Rousseau Poetry Prize from the National Poetry Review and will be published by their press in 2016. She holds an MFA from Bennington College, teaches at Berklee College of Music, and lives in Newburyport, Massachusetts.