A Poem by Kelley Quinn

Can I?


You raise your hand,

Ask, “Ms. Miller,

Please please can I

Use the restroom?”


She says, “I don’t know …

Can you?”


To which you groan, reply,



She nods, smiling, confident.


You are 10 years old.

You grab something from your mother’s

Hands. She tsks, takes it back, says,

“Ask first. Don’t grab.”


You say, “May I please borrow that?”


Your mother nods, smiling, confident.


You are 15 years old.

There is a girl in your

School you’ve known since fourth grade.


The dance is next week. You approach her,

With flowers, like your mother said,

“Will you go to homecoming with me?”


She nods, smiling, confident.


You go to the dance and you are

Both standing by the side.

You don’t know what to do.


But she does.


She turns to you, hand outstretched,

“Will you dance with me?” She asks.


You nod, smiling, confident.


You are 17. Your friends are all going

Out and you go downstairs to find your parents.


“Mom, dad. Is it ok if I go out with some friends?

I’ll be back by midnight.”


Yes, they say, nodding, smiling, confident.


Thank you, you say.


You are 20, a sophomore in college.

Your teacher says to find a partner.

Everyone internally screams and you panic.

Someone taps you on the shoulder, a girl,

She says, “Would you like to be my partner?”


You say, yes, relieved that you didn’t have to ask.


“Can I borrow a pen?” She asks later.


Yes, you say, nodding, smiling, confident.


You ask this girl out for dinner.

At the restaurant, you ask the waiter, “Can I have

The linguini please?”


Yes, he says, nodding, smiling, confident.


You’ve been asking your whole life.


Can I use the restroom?

Can I see that?

Can I borrow that?

Do you mind?

Can I?

Would it be okay?

Are you sure if?

Is it okay if?

Would it be possible to…?


Then why the f**k can’t you

Ask for consent?


© 2016 Kelley Quinn

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Added on November 20, 2016
Last Updated on November 20, 2016