The End of I'm Sorry

Remember how I used to get out of your way
and apologize for being there
like I was sorry for existing?
Just so that you could walk on through
without having to swerve right or left
--sorry, I'd say, or excuse me, or go ahead

Remember how I used to smile a lot
while you explained all the little details
you believed I didn't know?
You loved that, my smile
it made you want to slow down
it made you want to stop, say hello
like I was smiling just for you

And sometimes I thought I was
you know, it was sort of flattering
to have caught your attention
especially if you were a little older
if you had that sense of confidence and power
men get when others defer to them for years

Sometimes you reminded me of men I'd known
before, when I was far too young
who had reached out and stopped me mid-stride
grabbed my wrist maybe
a little too forcefully
touched me a little too intimately
when they thought nobody was watching

But do you know what
somebody was

Nothing those men ever did went unwitnessed
because little girls grow up
and become women
and it turns out we were always watching
and you never know
what secrets we women are holding
behind our smiles

You never know when we will stop
saying I'm sorry
and start using words that cut down
to the bone of who you are: big man
who touches little girls
weak man hiding in a strong man's suit

I am standing in your way
and I am not sorry
looks like you better learn to run


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