A confession: there is a kind of envy that sometimes creeps up in me when I notice famous people, like authors with many popular books, or those widely praised or described as “influencers” and “visionaries.” (Especially when those books are most similar to my own one book.) I grapple with the fact that in the great scheme of worldly success I often feel like a nobody, and more so in my life today with chronic illness and retirement isolation. Margy reminds me that it is only human to feel such feelings. My critical thinking also notes that in the capitalist system, these hierarchies are meant to elicit self-hate and hunger. Hierarchy and domination are the underpinnings of all oppression.
Taking a brief walk today, I imagine my ancestors curious and baffled at this strange descendent who is a writer, who has strange cravings for fame. They never thought about such things. Then I remembered a poem I wrote many years ago, and went looking for it. I had titled it The Inner Wounds of Class Oppression. It is still a healing incantation for me.
Every day, envy gnaws at your fingers. Your eyes watch the movers and shakers climbing into dream cars, Going Places. You want to be Somebody. You would ride, eyes averted from the rear view mirror where all of the Nobodies recede like small dark flies to brush away from smooth shoulders. Every day, anger fills your gut like a pile of bricks. Your own hard shoulders ache to reach in and hurl them forward one by one. Your ears would strain to hear the glass shattering and rubber squealing, as the fine white shine of the dream machine careens sidelong off the grade into a deep obituary. Every day, you clutch at the bark of trees, knees trembling, moved and shaken. Your fingertips feel for hidden messages left there on some other blue morning when somebody was repeating poems into gnarled crevices, quiet voice seeping down the edges of roots into rock under sand: Remember who you are. Precious as soil. Worthy of the sun.