Monday, May 15, 2017

New Post: Susan McLean, Finalist, Learning to Cope Poetry Prize

Learning to Cope

She learned to cope with every trick they tried
to keep her down.  To put her in her place,
they said she was incompetent. (They lied.)
But every setback has a saving grace.

A snail must cross a field at a snail’s pace,
and yet it still may reach the other side.
Scaling each log or ditch she had to face,
she learned to cope. With every trick they tried,

her path grew more oblique.  She learned to hide
behind a noncommittal smile, erase
hints of determination.  Satisfied
to keep her down, to put her in her place,

they failed to see, at first, she’d moved a space
forward.  Just one.  No challenge to their pride,
control, or dominance.  But, just in case,
they said she was incompetent.  They lied

that her advance was due to a free ride.
“The methods that some women will embrace
to get ahead!” they muttered, narrow-eyed.
But every setback has a saving grace.

They never saw her hand concealed an ace:
persistence was the only ploy she plied.
And though she might not win the steeplechase,
with every hurdle that she took in stride      
she learned to cope.

Susan McLean

Susan McLean is an English professor at Southwest Minnesota State University. Her poems have appeared often in Light, Lighten Up Online, Measure, Mezzo Cammin, and elsewhere.

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