Conversation with a Fireman from Brooklyn

I have, over time, offered poems in class that will, I hope, create discussion on woman’s lives and gender issues.  Often that didn’t work out, but this poem was great.  Don’t miss the poignant line on lost hope.  As far as the last five lines:  Who do you think the speaker is?

Conversation with a Fireman from Brooklyn
                                                Tess Gallagher

He offers, between planes,

to buy me a drink. I’ve never talked

to a fireman before, not one from Brooklyn

anyway. Okay. Fine, I say. Somehow

the subject is bound to come up, women

firefighters, and since I’m

a woman and he’s a fireman, between

the two of us, we know something

about this subject. Already

he’s telling me he doesn’t mind

women firefighters, but what

they look like

after fighting a fire, well

they lose all respect. He’s sorry, but

he looks at them

covered with the cinders of someone’s

lost hope, and he feels disgust, he just

wants to turn the hose on them, they

are that sweaty and stinking, just like

him, of course, but not the woman he

wants, you get me? and to come to that—

isn’t it too bad, to be despised

for what you do to prove yourself

among men

who want to love you, to love you,

love you.

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