This Story, I Am This Story by Marie Cartier


photo by Kimberly Esslinger

1.

The papaya, the lemon, the squash.
The everything going bad—not yet.
I can pickle anything I can save—still. And I am never still.
Still…at sixty-four here I am. Rise. This is age—still.

2.

I have a passport to somewhere that does not
exist. As a white skin person with color
roots that do not show. My grandfather could not
have had the chance I have to walk at night
in a white neighborhood and nobody knows who I am,
until they know. And still… I am here. This is race—still.

3.

An ivory castle, an ant hill teeming with fire ants, a
stop sign, the rich woman’s house my grandmother
cleaned, the rich woman was my English teacher. My
father beat me for wanting to go to the Ivy League
school, Sarah Lawrence—I could not want to go
where he did not go. So, I went—to the state school.
But, I went, and I did, and I still…I’m
never still. This is possession.
This is wanting—still.

4.

The dark room without a light. The stars
blink at me to move along. I am less
afraid of a coyote than a man out
with my dog at night walking
it off. Walking off the fear of a pandemic virus.
Walking off the fear of—everything—
where are we headed?
Somewhere.
Walking somewhere – my dog ahead of me,
Her ears pointing. She is…I am
never, ever still.

*

I am a rape survivor many times over, and I survived
to be this woman with a pen. And I am…
never still. Stillness as location.
For this is location—still.

5.

A red apple on the teacher’s desk is never
enough if you are not in the class.
The guy said I wouldn’t get the job at seventeen
because it had to go to a boy even though I
created the job the summer before—
a park director in a dangerous neighborhood that I made
a park because no one wanted it. But I did. And I did.
I knew he was wrong, but it would be twenty years
before the words sexual harassment became a
tool I could use. Because…and still. I am
now. I am never still. This is gender—still.

6.

I am a wave, a crash, a body among bodies
among bodies. I believe in people
fighting for what’s right. My wife and I
got married in 2008 and two days later
the state shut down gay marriage and we
spent our honeymoon protesting.
Her first protest sign,
“When do I get to vote on your marriage?’

*

And here I am. Still. Still protesting this shit, is
a sign I would use later. Still. I am never.
I am never still. And this is relationship—still.

*

It’s a long life, I say to students.
A lot can happen. Miles to go before you sleep.
A long road. At sixty-four I think, yes. Maybe yes, it isA Wonderful Life.
And still…
I am never still.
This body I am. This story I am
is to be continued. And still.
For I am never…I am never still.

–Marie Cartier
  January 9, 2021
With thanks to LA’s Cuties Coffee Shop, Poetry Workshop

 

Marie Cartier has a Ph.D. in Religion with an emphasis on Women and Religion from Claremont Graduate University.  She is the author of the critically acclaimed book Baby, You Are My Religion: Women, Gay Bars, and Theology Before Stonewall (Routledge 2013). She is a senior lecturer in Gender and Women’s Studies and Queer Studies at California State University Northridge, and in Film Studies at Univ. of CA Irvine.



Categories: Poetry, Women's Voices

Tags: ,

7 replies

  1. Absolutely wonderful writing, and such wise observations. Thank you.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. It never ends… it’s taken a whole lifetime for me to learn that.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. On and on it goes, and on and one we go, one step at a time.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. Wow, so profound and sad and hopeful all at the same time. Let’s all be hopeful as you’re hopeful of the future, that it’ll be better than the past. My friend, I know you’ve done some fabulous and impressive work. Keep going! And stay safe in all the ways to be safe. But never stop protesting. You’re good at it.

    Liked by 4 people

  5. Marie, you are a wonder. Thank you for sharing this exquisite authentic piece of yourself.

    Liked by 3 people

  6. Marie,
    Yes, you are still Marie, the one Marie I met so many years ago in an arts center outside Denver. Your words will never end because all your students will keep them moving, no matter what. I was first so inspired by your movement towards more and more education, and more and more life. You, yes you, gave me a new start, a beginning and a belief in writing. I promised and never stopped writing. No matter what. You are such a blessing, mine, the world’s, every life you touch. ThankyouThankyouThankyou

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Marie, you have a beautiful and you are an amazing fighter for what is right. Your words touched me deeply on a level that reaches my heart. Keep going ” I am never still”, that’s a great motto for us women. Somehow you remind me of Alice Walker. And I thank you for your sharing.

    Liked by 2 people

Please familiarize yourself with our Comment Policy before posting.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: