Two Meanings

My history teacher swivels 
her neck towards the audience,

then towards the board. We
hear only one crack in her movements.

Fitting for today’s lesson,
she says, pulling her sleeves past

her elbows. Fair lies on the board
like it’s expecting 

someone to smear it 
and rewrite it in a different font.

Fair is usually used two ways: 
an archaic word for beautiful,

an adjective to say something is just. 
The word fair has been used often in talking 

 about women. 
‘Protect your fair lady,”

where I’ve written this fair.
The problem is, Ms. Harlow continues,

we’ve forgotten ‘fair’ when it comes
to women’s rights. 

My fingers move 
to the center of my notepad.

Artist Statement

Seeing that this word is used frequently, I looked up the definition, as I knew it was a homonym, but I was not completely sure what the other definitions besides “something that is just” were. I discovered new definitions and read about some history of the word. That gave me the idea for this poem: a history teacher teaching about the history of women’s rights and the problems that still occur today. I ask myself how the definitions are so connected, yet there are still inequalities today.


By: Jackie Vandermel

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