Venom

By Michelle Eccellente Stevenson

Standing in the checkout line,
I waved hello, but I didn’t recognize you.
Once amicable, previously approachable, 
you were not there.
 
Disturbed, but not surprised, I recalled hints
of your path towards a closed-mind.
Over time, in the company of others, 
marching to the beat of exclusion.
Tromping on the ideals of inclusivity.
 
Still, I hadn’t previously been introduced
to the poisonous scowl that painted your
face each time you glanced at the register.
 
Standing with your arms crossed, 
disdain pouring out, you glared 
at the young mother in front 
of us, paying with her food stamps card.
 
As if she was less than. 
As if she wanted to put back the 
items that tipped her over the edge. 
As if she wanted to hear her kids beg for 
the cereal that turns milk into chocolate.
 
Had that hateful scowl been concealed,
waiting for someone to say “it’s 
okay for it to come out and play”? 
Are you one of the many, emboldened 
by others, who declares, “go ahead,
tell it like it is, no holding back”?
 
And then you did, 
unable to contain the viciousness any longer.
Loud enough 
for her to hear 
for her children 
for us all.
 
Loud enough, with malicious intent, 
to wound the vulnerable.
You hissed and spat venom, 
“If you can’t afford groceries...!”
 
You turned and expected me to agree. 
I watched you, dumbfounded, 
briefly stuck in my spot. 
Shocked and disgusted, 
I walked away, abandoning my groceries, 
leaving them as a testament to your tirade. 
The abandoned basket a reflection of your 
deserted humanity.

Michelle Eccellente Stevenson is a mom, wife, abstract artist, writer, TEDx Speaker, and Founder of Cultivate Caring. Michelle’s Bachelor of Arts degree, with a dual major in Political Science and Sociology, gave her a peek into the window of how connected we all are. The bulk of her career was spent in the training and development sector, working for major corporations as an educator. She now spends her time focusing on creative endeavors. Color and mood define her visual art pieces and themes of humanity bind Michelle’s literary works. Michelle can be followed on social media @MESStudioArt. Her TEDx Talk ‘How Caring Connects Us’ is on YouTube and she invites you to join her on social media @CultivateCaring to discover how you can care more about yourself, others, and the world.

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