I found this explosive essay last Friday in the aftermath of the Supreme Court hearings and it was transcendent–ranging from axe throwing to rage to cancer to depression to how to keep going. It was just what I needed to read and you may want to read it, too. (I’ve been going around muttering “Come and get me, fear” and “I am the exploding bomb” since I read it, if that tells you anything.)
An Axe for the Frozen Sea, by Megan Stielstra
“You too have your tools,” wrote Kafka in a passage about fear, and I thought of that line whenever I was scared: I will get through this. I can talk to friends, write about it. Years later, I came across a different translation of the same text: “You too have your weapons.” That seemingly simple switch changed the entirety of my inner dialogue: I will defend myself, I will fuck you up, come and get me, fear.
If I told that Lyft driver how wrong he was, how stupid he sounded, how scared I felt in his car, how angry I am at that fear, how angry I am to be here—again—still—this is not an isolated incident, this is not new, this is a woman in the back of a cab, a woman at the grocery store, a woman crossing the street, a woman on the internet, a woman in a bar, a woman in America in 2018, and I realize that one hand has the cell phone ready and the other is wrapped around the door handle in case I have to throw myself out of this moving car. I didn’t have to think about those movement. They’re in my bones, as natural and instinctive as putting your hands out when you’re about to fall or rocking back and forth when you’re holding a baby. This is not what I want my body to know. I don’t want protection. I don’t want self-preservation. I want to go for the axe. I want to go for the throat. I want to reach my arm straight through the back of the driver’s side seat, through his body, and out through his ribcage, his oozing heart gripped tight in my fist.
I want rage.
Hi Karen – I found your website a few months ago while doing a deep dive on the Wiksten kimono. I keep checking back because I enjoy reading all your posts especially the poetry and timely links like this one. Thank you for sharing!
Oh, thank you Angela! I’m glad you’re here.