Conversation with a Fireman from Brooklyn by Tess Gallagher

Midnight. I needed time to think. The past few days haven’t been exactly kind to my heart. I saw you again — by chance, which meant, what are the odds. Which meant, our worlds have ceased to overlap. Which meant, I am only allowed this distance from now on. Which meant: I have to move on.

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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