This Bridge Called My Back

Donna Kate Rushin, better known as Kate Rushin is a lesbian poet. Her prefatory poem, “The Bridge Poem”, to the 1981 collection, “The Bridge Called My Back”, is considered iconic. I’m sharing this poem for those who may not be familiar with it because I recall a time many years ago when the lines resonated so deeply as I’m sure they will for others.


I’ve had enough
I’m sick of seeing and touching
Both sides of things
Sick of being the damn bridge for everybody

Nobody
Can talk to anybody
Without me Right?

I explain my mother to my father my father to my little sister
My little sister to my brother my brother to the white feminists
The white feminists to the Black church folks the Black church folks
To the Ex-hippies the ex-hippies to the Black separatists the
Black separatists to the artists the artists to my friends’ parents…

Then
I’ve got the explain myself
To everybody

I do more translating
Than the Gawdamn U.N.

Forget it
I’m sick of it

I’m sick of filling in your gaps

Sick of being your insurance against
The isolation of your self-imposed limitations
Sick of being the crazy at your holiday dinners
Sick of being the odd one at your Sunday Brunches
Sick of being the sole Black friend to 34 individual white people

Find another connection to the rest of the world
Find something else to make you legitimate
Find some other way to be political and hip

I will not be the bridge to your womanhood
Your manhood
Your human-ness

I’m sick of reminding you not to
Close off too tight for too long

I’m sick of mediating with your worst self
On behalf you your better selves

I am sick
Of having to remind you
To breathe
Before you suffocate
Your own fool self

Forget it
Stretch or drown
Evolve or die

The bridge I must be
Is the bridge to my own power
I must translate
My own fears
Mediate
My own weaknesses

I must be the bridge to nowhere
But my true self
And then
I will be useful

    -from This Bridge Called My Back

Published by 5thgenerationgirl

Tammy Wynette is a mother of three and a β€œG-MA” (grandma). Born in Warren, Arkansas, she currently resides in Sacramento, CA and is pursuing an AA degree in English at American River College, with plans to transfer to California State University, Sacramento (Sac State). She is an active leader and role model in her community, she works with teens sharing and teaching poetry, as well as providing insight for young parents to prosper. She has certificate from NAMI (The National Alliance on Mental Illness) and is a trailblazer & Griot, keeper of stories/traditions passed down from her ancestors. As an Author and motivational speaker it’d be an honor to present at your events to inspire, encourage & let our VOICES be heard! She has short stories and poems published in Our Black Mothers Brave, Bold and Beautiful!

67 thoughts on “This Bridge Called My Back

  1. WOW, what a bold and powerful declaration of β€œtired of being sick and tired!” I am not familiar with her work but thanks so much Tammy for sharing this one with us. Have a FANtabulous day girlfriend!!! πŸ€—πŸ’πŸ˜πŸ’–πŸ₯°

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m so surprised to hear you & a few others say that you’re not familiar with her work. I’m so happy now that I decided to share it.
      Ooh & as for today, I’ll be resting. Last night was an evening of “Roses & Chocolate Poetry…and too much tequila, lol.πŸ’•

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Well look at you Miss Party Animal! Roses and Chocolate Poetry eh? Ask no questions, tell no lies!!! LMBO πŸ€£πŸ˜œπŸ˜‚ But, I am glad you shared this poet with us because there are more authors out here that we have never heard of. I’m glad our platform gives us an opportunity to introduce them to people in our circles!!! πŸ‘πŸΌπŸ˜πŸ™πŸΌ

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Yes, I especially appreciate discovering poetry from other countries & hearing them in their languages. By the way I don’t know why, but I feel like I was in a bar brawl. Everyone I was with said they woke up in pain.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. LMBO πŸ€£πŸ˜†πŸ˜‚ Noooo, not the dress rehearsal of wigs! Girl, you got me dyin’ here!!! I love it!!! πŸ˜πŸ˜›πŸ˜œ Sistah, go on and relax. Get ready to take on your week! 🀺 Ginormous hugs and BIG smooches! πŸ˜˜πŸ’‹πŸ₯°

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Wow. That is so very honest. I wonder how many women have felt that way in the past and didn’t give themselves permission to take care of themselves for a change. Permission to not be responsible for everyone around. Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. That was a very interesting poem, Tammy, and I can feel her frustration and anger in every syllable and verse of the poem.

    I’m sure you have your own read of the message. For me, it’s about setting boundaries with those who take and take and take from you and focusing on one’s own self care in order to be whole again. Definitely a good reminder for the times we are in!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. We are surely on the same page, but it’s my daughter who this poem reminds me of. Through childhood & school she’s always been the “fixer” which worried me. Now that she’s much older though she’s shown that I no longer need to worry.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Cool, I’m so glad I posted it. I’m always hesitant to post the work of others thinking that my readers will be bored with seeing the same work, but a few have mentioned they were not familiar with this one. Thanks, I appreciate you.

      Liked by 1 person

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