#MeToo: On Michigan Avenue in November by Janette Schafer

It is only three miles from
where I am and where I need to be.
Man in a black Chrysler
pulls up to my bus stop, parks
in front of me, shaded window
hums as it opens in a puff
of smoke, forced air meeting
frozen wind–a breath.
He reminds me of my grandfather
until he flashes a wad of cash
puts it in the empty passenger seat
tells me to get in.

It is only three miles from
where I am and where I need to be,
from the fancy car and wrinkled bills,
so I walk fast, legs pumping like
the pistons pounded out in the factories
here in the heart of the Mitten. My heart
is only nineteen years old and it has never
pounded so hard. The lake effect winds
cling to my coat like candles in darkness.
Here I meet the Thin Man.

It is only two miles from
where I am to where I need to be,
a weathered jacket hung on his bones
as chiffon on a wire hanger, his eyes
meet mine and we nod in that way
strangers do. He walks past me, quickly turns,
his body so close I feel his heat on the back
of my neck, a drooped ceiling threatening
to break the floor beneath it.

It is twenty-five years from
where I was to where I need to be.
In my dreams, sometimes I am caught
by the Thin Man in this body, thick with
middle age and indiscretion. But on
that night, I was young still, Turner’s
The Angel Standing in the Sun whispers to me
in the moonlight, Run girl. Run.

It is one mile from
where I am to where I need to be,
tights split as I run, his footsteps
grow faint, my ragged breath
forms clouds of exertion and fear.
This is the night where the cold
has made me different, where the season has
transitioned a child who knows that
everything will be alright to a woman
who knows otherwise.

 

 

Janette Schafer is a freelance writer, nature photographer, former opera singer, and full-time banker living in Pittsburgh PA. She was a 2017 awardee of the Maenad Fellowship through Chatham University. Her poems and photographs have recently been included in the following: Unlikely Stories V, Event Horizons, Dear America, Reflections on Race, Nasty Women & Bad Hombres Anthology, and Anti Heroin Chic.

 

Installation Agora, Grant Park,Michigan Avenue, Chicago, artist Magdalena Abakanowicz.

 

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