Walking Past Midnight

It’s 12:30am
After a long day
And sitting
In front of my laptop
I need to
Before I can sleep.

So I do the unthinkable
For a white assigned female body
Grab my wallet
Put on my sandals
And go for a walk.

It might seem like a small thing
It is in a way
In another way
Every message I received growing up
Would tell me not to do this.
That it’s unsafe,
Living as I do in a “bad” neighborhood.
My parents would be appalled.

What does safety even mean
In a City ravaged by the Delta variant.
In a state with as many anti-trans bills
As I have years on Earth.
I will not try to make myself more safe
At someone else’s expense.
I will not try to make myself more safe
At someone else’s expense.

I pass three cop cars on my walk.
They’re unaffected by my existence.
They won’t stop to see why my white face
Is walking down the sidewalk.
I’m not a threat to their authority,
Even in a #BlackLivesMatter tshirt.
If it weren’t a main street they might even stop
To make sure I’m okay.
As they probably agree
I shouldn’t be walking at night.

I breathe the night air
Feel the breeze on my face
Hear the crickets.
Nothing happens.
I have the privilege
to walk my neighborhood undisturbed
Even in the dead of night.

You might say this poem is performative.
I don’t care.
My body is a performance
Arms swinging
Keys clinking
Beads of sweat forming on my brow
Unwriting decades of cultural conditioning
With every step.
It is a small thing.
But what is life
Except a series of small moments
Where we have a choice.

And tonight I chose to resist
The voices in my head
That tell me I better stay home.
It’s a small thing.
But not nothing.

And maybe
This one small thing
Can give someone else the courage
To test the night air
In their own neighborhood.

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