“#CarryThatWeight” by Jennifer Jean

Jennifer Jean


Columbia senior Emma Sulkowicz has been hauling her own dorm mattress around campus every day [because] the student she says raped her is still free to attend the school without formal consequences.

My mom was broken by five
or six guys one dawn before I was born.
So that’s gotta be the weight of
a king. & she carries that. Carried that
right past the Hollywood police station on Burbank around noon.
I consider carrying our queen-sized around our apartment
like those “Students for Emma!” from around the globe.
But I’m just a weaker
upper body.
I take on my daughter’s futon.
My mom got it for her at Ikea. It’s a lightweight.
& the idea
is to lug it for about an hour. At home.
Write as I go. Some kind of science, some kind of art.
In order
to relate.
My daughter moves stuffed dogs & pigs off her quilt,
helps me slide the pony-colored twin onto my spine.
She makes me a tortoise.
She takes pictures, Smile. Smile.
Smile. I don’t
think I can bear it a minute. It’s hers.
My daughter’s, my mother’s, all
the grand hers.
& I won’t
where I teach. I teach
so I’d mulled hauling it to the University. But
taking on a big thing like that? Sweating, bending
under that?
You know what lives under a bed.
All the weight
of my frame thumps the ground in the kitchen
as I dump the thing,
hard. My daughter rolls on it, giggles. My pen’s gone, &
my mom was broken by five
or six guys one dawn before I was born.

from Rattle #53, Fall 2016
Tribute to Adjuncts

[download audio]


Jennifer Jean: “I believe poetry is a means to real healing, compassion, and change. To these ends, I’ve been teaching Free2Write poetry workshops to sex-trafficking and labor-trafficking survivors so they can tell their stories their way. I believe it is with non-traditional, often vulnerable writers that poetry’s true power can be realized. I was once very vulnerable—I lived in foster care from seven months to seven years old—during and after which I experienced my share of objectification. Poetry helped me contain, explore, and digest these traumatic incidents. My hope is that poetry can help my Free2Write students do the same. My hope is that through this writing Americans can know there’s an awful quick slide from objectification to war, bigotry, and even modern-day slavery.” (website)

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