Poetry: “A Non-Apology” by Katie Chicquette Adams


A Non-Apology

for Sarah, “The Lion,” interpreter for American forces in Iraq


Look, I’m really sorry
there are terrifying people
in your hometown who
want to kill you because
you helped me, that’s some
rotten luck, for sure, but
I gotta look out for me now.
Me and ​mine​, y’know?
You’re taking this personally—
it’s not about ​you​—
it’s about ​other ​legitimately
wicked people who might
come here and might succeed
in doing something that no
one from your hometown
or the other six rough neighborhoods
has successfully done in 15 years—
and that’s a big deal. I don’t want
to be afraid of that possibility,
y’know? Of innocent people
being killed simply for being
associated with America. That’s
probably not easy for you to
I mean, yeah—
hey,  couldja stop interrupting me?
That’s kind of rude. When you get
all upset it’s really hard for me to
have this conversation with you.
Yes, I ​see​ your [sigh] point. Yes.
But here in my country, we just have to be ​safe​.
People have to wait in line, get checked.
[eyebrows] ​eight​ years? [sucks teeth] Well,
y’know, you really
shouldn’t complain—I heard on
the radio about this Somali
dude in the camp in Kenya who’s
been waiting twice that long.
So. You have to admit, you
have it better than him. No, I know,
you said—but … we don’t ​know​ they’ll
kill you, I mean do you ​know​ for a fact?
Because if you don’t know for a fact, I mean
maybe you’ll be okay. Maybe you’re worrying for
nothing, scaring yourself with a “could be.”
It’s like, we all just have to make the
best of it, y’know? I mean,
anything can happen anywhere—
I could be shot in a
theater or nightclub or school or church—
it’s not just you, it’s everybody. I have fears, too.
That’s why we have to be so careful with the
possible threats from your neck o’ the woods—
we have enough trouble here with our own,
y’know, nutjobs [mirthless chuckle]!
Look …
I’m sorry

Katie Chicquette Adams is an educator and writer in Appleton, Wisconsin. She is a live storyteller with Storycatchers, Inc.; she has appeared or is forthcoming in River + Bay, Mothers Always Write, the regional radio segment “Soul of the Cities,” and on the blog, Storycatchers. She teaches at-risk young adults in the areas of language arts and history at a public alternative high school, with hopes they will remake their own stories. She can be reached at k.chicquette.adams@gmail.com.

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