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City Privilege

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City Privilege

City Privilege

This was written for my creative writing class in college. I don’t write poetry often (read:never) but this one kind of turned out okay I think. Written in 2014.


City Privilege


Heralston, a home to farmers, laborers, and housewives

Doesn’t quite know what to do with itself today.

The skies shed their tears and grumble in angst,

Alongside those who have come from far away

To mourn the death of their beloved school teacher.

The grocery store is closed for the day.

Susan and Paul are both seated in the church,

Next to George, the resident mechanic.

I sit in the back, narrowly avoiding the gaze of a man

Whose sister once pretended to be my friend.

Helen, my former babysitter, smiles at me.

Most of these faces look familiar,

But I’m only here at my mother’s request.

I lower my gaze and stare at my hands,

Wondering how long I’m staying this time.


This town, where you can’t buy liquor on Sundays,

And the coffee shop is closed on the weekends,

Offers no real comfort now.

I feel out of place, like my privilege in the city

Has gifted me a third arm solely for them to covet.

They think they hide their sneers, but I still hear,

Even in my mother’s tone when I call her on Sundays.


The gospel hymns, as cheerful as they sound,

Do little to mend the bitterness in my heart.

The teacher, who now lies still at the altar,

Has brought this room together, for better or worse.

Forty three years of teaching is no small feat,

But I wonder what she could have accomplished

If she’d been brave enough to leave her family behind.


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