On Respectability

There are days when I no
longer feel generous.

There are days when I don’t
feel like pretending to be

a good guest in your house. Besides,
I’ve just in time remembered

it’s my house and was so mine
before you came into the picture,

so why should I have to suffer
the indignity of paying rent

or answering to a property
manager, of trying to find

an unfastened back window
or trying to jimmy a lock

in order to enter what was my
indigenous space to begin with?

I want to keep the water in the well
free of contamination. I want

to sleep in my own bed and use
my own toilet, have access

to the clothes in my closet
and the books on my shelves.

And if I want to wake up late
or sing in the shower or cook

breakfast in just my undies
you don’t have the right

to issue executive orders:
you don’t have the right

to tell me I don’t know
how to run my own affairs;

that I eat the wrong
kinds of food and buy from

the wrong kinds of people.
Don’t tell me my desire to send

my kids to good schools is unseemly;
that I pick the wrong kinds

of friends to run with;
that my values have all

gone downhill— Don’t tell me
I need to be hectored on all

the ways that threaten your own
utter lack of discernment

and respectability, hence
the daily wars you wage on me.

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