by Linda Scheller
©2020  Louise Whiting
IG:  @louisewhitingphotography
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Linda Scheller  is the author of Fierce Light (FutureCycle Press), a collection of persona poems in the voices of 36 women from world history and culture. Her poetry and plays have appeared in Hawaii Pacific ReviewPoemSlipstreamNotre Dame ReviewPoetry East, and Connecticut River Review, among other publications, and new work is forthcoming in The American Journal of Poetry. Ms. Scheller serves on the board of the Modesto Stanislaus Poetry Center and programs for KCBP community radio. Her website is lindascheller.com.
This Is How

In the center of the diner, a woman in a hijab 
sat writing while her little boy dropped a ball
which rolled this way and that. He trotted after it, 
bent to retrieve the ball, returned to his mother, 
dropped and retrieved, returned and dropped. 
A white-haired man with a paper cup in his hand
shuffled to the center from the opposite side.
He stopped behind the boy’s mother, lifted his cup, 
and dumped it over the seated woman’s head. 
Ice slid down her hijab and skittered on the floor.
He yelled, Get that brat out of here and go back 
to wherever you came from. The woman jumped up 
and shouted, You bad man! My son did nothing wrong.  
The boy cried, and my daughter hid under our table.

I sat in shocked silence. I sat and did nothing.
I said nothing. Nothing. I sat in silence and did nothing.

The manager ran out and yelled at the man,
told him to get out and never come back. 
The manager apologized to the woman
and gave her a package of terrycloth towels 
so she could wipe the soda from her hijab. 

I wanted to apologize to the woman.
I wanted to tell her she is welcome here.
I wanted to tell her that I thought 
her son was really very well-behaved, 
but I was afraid, and I said nothing. 

Twenty-four years later, one of my students asks 
how the Holocaust could have happened.
I tell them about the woman in her hijab 
and her son, the old man and the manager,
and how I watched and did nothing, 
walked past the woman and said nothing.

This is how. 

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