Missing the Train

I would like to be thought of as someone, as the type of person, who perpetually misses trains, loses hats, and spills anything hot and full to the brim. I wouldn’t mind being seen trailing a suitcase and vague ambitions. It wouldn’t be all that dishonorable to be involved in deflections and evasions, careful remembering and necessary forgetting.

I would like to distract my anger with a light, a ist, a shimmer, anything. But my secret is not safe with me. My self-control goes from sitting in the front row of the schoolroom, to the back row, to standing in the back, to no more self-control in the time it takes you to read this. Because you took my seat on the bus, or talked the wrong politics, or had too many items in the grocery checkout line. In other words, for any stupid reason I’m helpless to predict.

If someone like me hurt your feelings, or ruined your day, or has become the subject of a big laugh amongst your friends about the crazy lady who had an outburst in public, you should know there’s no perverse joy in it. It happens too fast, and there’s too much shame afterwards.

And fear. Fear that the next time I’ll mouth off to my landlord and get evicted or to a cop and get arrested. And it takes days for my sense of dignity to come back, each time with more chips and tears in it.

Kathleen Hart is the recipient of the inaugural Jacopone da Todi Poetry Prize for her collection, A Cut-and-Paste Country. Hart feels her bipolar disorder fuels her creativity. Hart currently resides in Texas and is a former college instructor and high school teacher.

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