Remember the Boys

chucking rocks at the wasps’ nest,
their gathered hum then sudden sting
at the nape of my neck. Oh, how I paid—
still pay—for the recklessness
of boys. Little Bretts. Little Jeffs.
Little knives to my breast. 
How lucky they were to never 
be held down, to never see
their voices crawl the air like fire!

How desperately I yearned to be them,
to storm the halls in macho gospel:
matching blue jackets, blood-filled
posture and made-you-flinch. 
How different would I be, 
how much bigger, if I had been
given room enough to be 
a country's golden terror? 


Copyright © 2020 by Rachel McKibbens. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on January 23, 2020, by the Academy of American Poets.

About this Poem

“I wrote this poem a few months after Dr. Christine Blasey Ford’s stunning testimony about Brett Kavanaugh. Her story affected me deeply, and Kavanaugh’s response to it reminded me of an incident in high school involving a star football player I confronted on behalf of a young woman he had harmed. So much of my youth was wasted on wishing I’d been born a boy. I believed, for too long, that femininity was synonymous with victimhood. I’m grateful to have evolved from that mindset.”
Rachel McKibbens