At the mall today
almost lost you
didn't hold your hand
wasn't my weekend
your father
held it tight
so small at four
in the café
bought you juice

Did the man
see you sit
at your table
did you see him
at his table
next to madness
demons in his head
rifle in his bag
Rambo for a day.

Four minutes

get in the car
he shoots a girl
your waitress
who gave you juice
shoots others
coffee in their cups
next to your dad
in the car

in the car park
more shots

Bang Bang Bang
Bang Bang
for himself

Did you hear
The radio reports
seven dead
your father
on the phone
no words

I knew
you were there
four minutes
to spare


© Sheryl Persson
(Published in Poetrix, Issue 20, May 2003)
(Published in First Breath Poems on Pregnancy, Birth and Motherhood, Nov 04)

“A gender-equal society would be one where the word ‘gender’ does not exist: where everyone can be themselves.”*

I’ve always been aware of gender conditioning and actively tried to combat any lingering prejudices or stereotypes in my own parenting, even down to encouraging dolls with my boys when they were little. It’s great to read people writing about gender issues they’re experiencing with their kids. For too long these subjects have been discouraged or silenced. I’d love to publish some more creative writing on this topic, especially if you are struggling with a child who actively tries to move away from gender normative preferences. A society where everyone can be themselves thanks Gloria for those aspirational words.

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* Gloria Steinem