Marne Grinolds Wilson

Photo Credit: Kate Sumbler/Flickr (CC-by-nc-nd)

Photo Credit: Kate Sumbler/Flickr (CC-by-nc-nd)

That look from you, that tone of voice, and suddenly
I am not an adult woman arguing a point with a colleague.
I am 8 years old again, working with my daddy,
and being told “That’s not the way you hold a shovel,”
That’s not the way you plant lettuce,”
That’s not the way to close the gate.”
Then the object in question is ripped roughly out of my hands,
never to be entrusted to me again.
I learn two interlinked lessons:
it is the worst thing in the world to be wrong,
and I am always the one who is wrong.

Later, after I am married, my husband develops
his own way of handling the same situation,
less violent but no less condescending.
When I do something that he does not like
or simply cannot fathom,
he always has the same response: “Oops.”
As if to blot out, with that one word,
the possibility that there might be motive behind my actions,
that I might have a reason for doing what I’ve done.
In his mind, it can only have been a cute mistake
from a wayward girl with no mind of her own,
and so he graciously gives me the opportunity
to realize the error of my ways.

Now here I stand with you,
someone younger than I am with less experience,
and still you take that tone of voice with me,
assure me that what I did was very wrong,
lecture me on how I can keep myself safe
from committing the same error in the future.
Can you blame me for walking away from you
before you think you are finished?
But I suppose you think this is just another mistake on my part.

pencilMarne Grinolds Wilson was born in North Dakota and now lives in Parkersburg, W.V. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in such places as Atlanta Review, The South Carolina Review, and The Texas Review. Her first poetry chapbook, The Bovine Daycare Center (Finishing Line Press), came out in July. Email: marneswilson[at]gmail.com

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