A bookcase, a staircase.
The Ginsburg lady
can lift you
up to the next landing.

In your own words,
how would you describe
the fear and independence
of the climb?

I came here for knowledge
not daring athletics.
And I’m what?
A petty thief with delusions standing?

That’s a different story.
A different woman
with a different independence
yet the same.

They want us alive
when they eat us.
Is it time to go to sleep again?
No, it’s time to wake up.


Traditionally in that class I’d taken in which we solely wrote dream poems, we would read them aloud to the class and describe the dream. But since I can’t exactly do that, I can at least briefly explain the dream.

I was much younger in a library with a girl about the same age as me. The most peculiar thing about the library was that the only way to the third floor was by climbing a stack of books by Ruth Bader Ginsburg, which I now can only assume was “My Own Words.” The girl and I made a game of dodging the librarians and sneaking in pretzels and listening to them gossip about clerical errors in the book. I had heard tales of the third floor but I’d never been myself, especially since the stack of books, even though it was stacked again every morning, was usually very short by the time we arrived. But the girl I was with took the risk one day.

It was only as I was transitioning it into poetry that the image of River Tam from Firefly replaced the image of that little girl and dream become more about independence and equality than about this whimsical library. I barely know anything about Ruth Bader Ginsburg, so while I was dreaming it, I didn’t really pay it much attention. But as I sat down to write it, these quotes from River just sort of sprang up and gave me the content I needed. I thought that I may need to differentiate River and Ruth but quickly learned that they weren’t very different at all.

On another note: To the victims and families of lost loved ones at last night’s terrifying mass shooting, my thoughts are with you.

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