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VOX Teen Poetry: I Am Like Marie

by share

Marie Van Brittan Brown and I don’t have much in common
The girls in my biology class who immerse themselves in the study of life
And the girls who can actually explain to you in detail anything about chemistry
I have nothing in common with them

They’re not smarter than me
I’m not cooler than them
I would simply rather write a story or argue a fake case in Mock Trial
Than dissect animals
Actually, that part’s rather fun
No hard feelings
I’m just not like them

At least I think

But in second period biology, when my teacher, a wiry and intelligent man, tells us to grab a piece of chalk and to work with our lab partners to illustrate the cycles of cellular respiration
And I grab my purple piece of powdery chalk while one boy gets orange and the other gray
I work well with my lab partners
Telling them all the elements and processes I know
And they write them down

My teacher comes over
Says that he’s seeing little orange
And almost no purple
I don’t think much
Now I just know to write a little more

Until everything I say is followed by a bitter hand weaving in front of me
And my ideas are written in orange chalk
And when it’s all over, I get the rag
I wet the rag and I clean the table
And in his audacity, in his male audacity, my lab partner tells me
“You missed a spot”
I know I did
And I clean everywhere but that spot

He repeats himself
And when he does, I flick the wet rag across the table and I say to him
“You clean it up”

In a way, I am like Marie and all the women in science I know
Because it’s not science and it isn’t time that discredits them
No matter my interests
I could be like Zelda Fitzgerald, writing story after story so my husband could leave me high and dry and go down as one of the greatest writers in modern society
or I could be like Ruth, professing all that I wanted to practice but couldn’t due to the climate of my society

I think of all those women
And wish they’d gotten the chance to flick a wet rag

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