AUDITION, Rachel Schmieder-Gropen

Audition
by Rachel Schmieder-Gropen

She admired my courage, she said 
in a way that made it clear that she
had noticed nothing else.

I did not need her to validate
my humiliation. 

I was there to watch myself
rock and weep, breathe too fast
and cringe in the far corner,
face to the wall, and because
I am not a child I know that 
that is what a child would do.
It is what a soldier would do.

She thinks herself strategic:
here to press a Purple Heart into 
the hollow of my hand. She thinks
I am back from the wars, lungs
burnt black and rattling with gas. 

I want to tell her, this was no
foregone conclusion. I did not
walk into this room like a soldier
into a rain of mortars, a martyr
primed for courage.

I want to tell her, I am here to sing.

I want to tell her, calling this 
courage is making the assumption
that my vocal cords are cut.
Rachel Schmieder-Gropen recently received the 2016 Gertrude Claytor Poetry Award from the Academy of American Poets and represented Mount Holyoke College in the 93rd Kathryn Irene Glascock Intercollegiate Poetry Contest. Her poems have appeared in publications including the Bitchin’ Kitsch, the Peeking Cat Poetry Review, Crab Fat Magazine, and the Yellow Chair Review.

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