Poem: Dr. Tanya Shields

By Callie Wallace

The day I presented my feminist action project I cried.
Ugly cried.
Leave-the-room-to-get-my-shit-together cried.
I thought I was prepared to talk about the abusive relationship.
The one that went on for
I wasn’t.
I thought I would die of the embarrassment of being that girl who cried.
I couldn’t look at my classmates much less my professor whom I admire and respect.
Thought I would die if I looked up because I knew if I did there would be a race
to see whose eyes could make it to the floor the fastest without having to face
that girl.
Class ended and I was still alive.
Dr. Shields asked if she could give me a hug.
Told me that she was proud of how open I allowed myself to be.
Told me to forgive that girl
because she was on her way to healing.
I shouldn’t have been surprised.
Dr. Shields creates feminist space
where all voices are heard and met with appreciation for
the courage it takes to be wrong
to speak from experience
to make yourself vulnerable.
As for that girl
she continues to grow
and I appreciate her a little more every day because
Dr. Shields taught me that that girl is a person
who is worth listening to
who does not have to apologize for existing
who is worth loving.