Old White Farmer by Cynthia Ruffin


I stand behind you
My pelvis flush against your backside
To hold unsteady legs in place
The two of us squeezed in the can
My hands, experienced at working in the dark,
Unbutton your Wrangler jeans
Faded from glory days long past
Days when farmers didn’t wear sunscreen
And a good day’s work paid all the bills
Your breath comes quicker now and I hear the rasp
That begins to emerge from your throat
And I’m patient
As you fumble with the front of your undergarment
With fingers that still recall
The planting and plucking of each soy bean and ear of corn
And  I wait
Wait for you to ask me, to guide my hands
Where you need them
I can after all afford you that much dignity
And I wait
Until your panic mounts and your soft groan tells me
That the time is now
For my fingers so gently, so quickly
For I am the consummate professional
Regardless of it being my first time
To travel the surface of skin so soft
It’s practically falling off the bone
And squeeze beneath sticky waistband
To grant you access to what was once,
No doubt your pride and joy
And your relief comes quickly
And it smells of blood pressure and thyroid medication
And old white farmer

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Cynthia Ruffin is a theatre activist, actor, writer and director who believes strongly in the power of theatre to heal. She has worked for the last 15 years as a social justice theatre workshop facilitator, performer and writer offering young people creative tools for creating constructive dialogue and action about issues of tolerance and diversity. She trained at the American Conservatory Theatre in San Francisco, studied under renowned Brazilian theatre activist Augusto Boal and has taught theatre for social justice workshops all over the United States to groups as diverse as undergraduate playwrighting students at the University of Iowa to youth engaging in survival sex to get by while living on the streets of Hollywood. In Santa Fe she sits on the board of NM Women in Film and has facilitated theatre for social justice workshops at the SF Rape Crisis and Trauma Treatment Center and the GSA Network at the Santa Fe Mountain Center. Ruffin co-wrote, co-produced and directed the play “BAGGAGE” in collaboration with Wise Fool New Mexico, which successfully toured the state in 2007 and wrote and co-produced the play “God Ain’t Done with Me Yet” a fundraiser and consciousness builder for the Santa Fe Recovery Center in 2008. Cynthia is published in the anthology Cootie Shots: Theatrical Inoculations Against Bigotry, has a number of short plays. Cynthia is currently finishing a degree in Liberal Arts at Antioch University and touring an anti-bullying show entitled Teen Truth Live.