Sunday Sermon: “The Bridge Poem”

Originally published in the anthology ‘This Bridge Called My Back’ in 1983, this poem by Kate Rushin (above) has inspired thousands of women of color worldwide to establish their own feminist roots:

I’ve had enough 
I’m sick of seeing and touching 
Both sides of things 
Sick of being the damn bridge for everybody 
  
Nobody 
Can talk to anybody 
Without me 
Right? 
  
I explain my mother to my father 
my father to my little sister 
My little sister to my brother 
my brother to the white feminists 
The white feminists to the Black church folks 
the Black church folks to the ex-hippies 
the ex-hippies to the Black separatists 
the Black separatists to the artists 
the artists to my friends’ parents… 
  
Then 
I’ve got to explain myself 
To everybody 
  
I do more translating 
Than the Gawdamn U.N. 
  
Forget it 
I’m sick of it. 
  
I’m sick of filling in your gaps 
  
Sick of being your insurance against 
the isolation of your self-imposed limitations 
  
Sick of being the crazy at your holiday dinners 
  
Sick of being the odd one at your Sunday Brunches 
  
Sick of being the sole Black friend to 34 individual white people 
  
Find another connection to the rest of the world 
Find something else to make you legitimate 
Find some other way to be political and hip 
  
I will not be the bridge to your womanhood 
Your manhood 
Your humanness 
  
I’m sick of reminding you not to 
Close off too tight for too long 
  
I’m sick of mediating with your worst self 
On behalf of your better selves 
  
I am sick 
Of having to remind you 
To breathe 
Before you suffocate 
Your own fool self 
  
Forget it 
Stretch or drown 
Evolve or die 
  
The bridge I must be 
Is the bridge to my own power 
I must translate 
My own fears 
Mediate 
My own weaknesses 
  
I must be the bridge to nowhere 
But my true self 
And then 
I will be useful