June 10, 2015 / On My Triumphant
Return to the DMV
Praise the middle-aged woman at the intake desk
who grins at me when I tell her of the changes
that bring me here: title, registration, address.
Praise her when she grins again and hands me my
forms and, spinning in her chair, says, His loss.
Praise the automatic voice that calls my number before
I’ve even begun to fill out my many forms.
Praise Ms. A. Washington, the embroidery of her name
on her navy, cable-knit DMV sweater so clear.
Praise Ms. A. Washington, who walks me through each
form and takes my many documents and carefully
scans them and returns them to me, one by one.
Praise her when she takes my photograph for the new
license and takes it a second time when perhaps
the first fails to reflect my specific charms.
Praise her words: In your name, as she hands me my
new license plates and registration, the slight
emphasis she places on the word, your.
Praise the greeting card that has kicked around in my
purse, an artist’s freebie I picked up somewhere.
Praise my memory of it, so I can write my thanks to
Ms. A. Washington while she methodically
compiles my documents and forms for filing.
Praise her supervisor who allows her to accept my note,
his ruling that my card is not a gift, not a bribe,
just my gratitude I can leave a little of behind.
Praise the DMV. There: I’ve said it. Praise the DMV
and the beautiful middle-aged Black women
who work there whom, too often, we make
a sport of resenting. They are beautiful. And
kind. May they be praised.
Copyright © Sarah Browning.
This poem finds humanity, amid loss, in a most unlikely place; a place I daresay most of us dislike. And just as we are feeling good, the poem implicates the narrator and the reader with the uncomfortable phrase “sport of resenting.” The weight of history is in those three words.
Sarah Browning is Co-Founder and Executive Director of Split This Rock: Poetry of Provocation & Witness. Author of Whiskey in the Garden of Eden and co-editor of D.C. Poets Against the War, she is an associate fellow of the Institute for Policy Studies and co-host of Sunday Kind of Love at Busboys and Poets in Washington, DC. With Don Share, she edited a special Split This Rock issue of POETRY magazine in 2014. Browning has received fellowships from the DC Commission on the Arts and the Creative Communities Initiative and is winner of the People Before Profits Poetry Prize. She was a finalist for the Levis Prize from Four Way Books and the Autumn House Press Prize.