How I Became a Feminist

by Paul C. Gorski (gorski@edchange.org/@pgorski)

Grandma sat in the dark of her house,
fingers caressing the worn armrests
of her recliner.

Feigning sleep
on the fold-out sofa
I studied her face.

She smoothed the front of her pink pressed nurse’s uniform
staring into the silence.

Eight years old, a timid boy,
I watched Grandma
becoming herself
before me.
The wrinkles in her face:
sweet signs of overcoming.
The distance in her eyes:
a celebration of persevering.
Her stillness:
a calm confidence,
a meditation before
bursting out.

I watched wondering why
my mother’s mother,
a few years into her first career,
chose the midnight shift.
I imagined her saying, if she spoke
just then, This is the me
I always intended to be.

This is the me.
And my spirit rumbled.

Grandma pressed herself out of her chair.
“Time to go,” she whispered to herself.
“Time to go,” my conscience echoed.

And as Grandma stepped out
of the dark of her house
my pulse assumed
the rhythm of her footsteps.

Grandma chose the midnight shift.
Grandma chose the midnight shift.

And who shouldn’t choose?
And who shouldn’t choose?
And who shouldn’t—?

Time to go.