'same as my own'

Rosie O’Donnell’s poem about Ivanka Trump, annotated


October 6th was National Poetry Day. It was also, coincidentally, the day that Rosie O’Donnell published a poem about her chance encounter with Ivanka Trump.

For those who missed the first presidential debate or the last decade, the backstory is this: Trump has spent years calling O’Donnell names like “fat pig” because she criticized him for playing morality cop about a Miss USA winner, Tara Conner, who allegedly had sex and used drugs.

At the time, Trump had made a big show of not firing Conner over the rumors, saying he believed in “second chances.” During a segment on The View, O’Donnell made fun of Trump’s hair, said that he wasn’t a moral authority, and pointed out that he had declared bankruptcy. She concluded the segment with, “Donald, sit and spin, my friend.” Cue feud!

Flash forward ten years. Trump is running for president—and still saying nasty things about O’Donnell—and his daughter, Ivanka, is serving as one of his most front-facing surrogates and a de facto candidate’s spouse.

O’Donnell runs into her at Nobu, a Manhattan restaurant that is very expensive. They chat for a few minutes. And then O’Donnell writes this poem about it.

Let’s dive in, line by line.

i saw 4 cops – security i thought
well dressed
jovial – handsome – “yo rosie”
“wasssup men” my common reply

O’Donnell here is very likely describing Ivanka Trump’s Secret Service detail, which started in September.

we walk toward one of the quiet booths
behind the stairway
i am tired
this is the first time i have been out

out of bed really – to be honest
since the debate
i have been sleeping a lot
depression clings to me

it’s hard to walk
to shower
to try
to care

O’Donnell has spoken publicly about her depression before. Her reference to “since the debate” is about the first presidential debate when Trump, unprompted, brought up his long history of saying vile things about O’Donnell.

“Hillary is hitting me with tremendous commercials. Some of it I said in entertainment, some of it said to somebody who has been very vicious to me, Rosie O’Donnell,” Trump said. “I said very tough things to her and I think everybody would agree she deserves it and nobody feels sorry for her.”

i see a couple
sitting close together
in a small corner booth
directly across from me

i watch them
stunned by her face
and his calming charm
they were definitely a THEY

obvious for all to see
oblivious to all seeing them
love works like this
i thought

so connected
alone together
in a crowded corner

This is Ivanka Trump and her husband, Jared Kushner, another close consultant to Donald Trump’s presidential campaign. While Ivanka has taken on the role of defending her father’s misogynistic comments, Kushner has defended things like his father-in-law’s initial reluctance to denounce KKK Grand Wizard David Duke or his habit of retweeting white supremacist and anti-Semitic twitter accounts.

“that is the most beautiful woman i have ever seen”
i say aloud to dana
she turns to look – turns back at me
“that’s ivanka”

can’t be i said
no it can’t be
it is –
she reassures me

what r the chances i say to myself
as dana walked to the hostess station to ask
i stared at the young couple
as they ate – unaware

i was captivated by her beauty
it blinded me so
i didn’t realize it was even her
til dana walked back to the table –

nodding slowly
she said
it was

dear god
i prayed
guide me
out of here

Ivanka, when asked about her father’s history of publicly insulting and demeaning women, told Fox News host Megyn Kelly: “My father can be an equal-opportunity offender. If somebody says something against him, he will speak his mind. And he treats women equal to how he treats men.”

In another instance where she defended her father’s misogyny, she told Town & Country:

You could also list a few comments he’s made about men that are unflattering. I think he’s highly gender-neutral. If he doesn’t like someone he’ll articulate that, and I think it’s also part of what resonates about him. He’ll say what he’s thinking. I think that’s very refreshing, because with most politicians I’ve witnessed, you have no idea if what’s coming out of their mouths is married to their viewpoints.

Ivanka went on in this interview to call her father a feminist.

we stood to move to another table
but i knew i could not stay
my heart i worried
would break again

it did 4 years ago
i won’t survive another one
change ur life
is the prescription

i walked the 5 steps toward her table
introduced myself
she smiled genuinely
her husband was warm and gracious

i told her of my children
some truths about myself
my pain and shame
she was absurdly kind

“i just wanted u to know”
i said in a shaky quiet voice
i then made my way down the large wooden stairway
into my waiting car

the entire encounter
start to finish
was 4 minutes

i wrote a book once
about bashert
the concept of
meant to be

it has comforted me
on my darkest days
when my inner voices scream
u deserved it

as her father has
same as my own

This may be the first time that Ivanka Trump has run into one of the target’s of her father’s public abuse. Though considering how wide of a net the Republican nominee has cast in the last year and a half of campaigning on racist and misogynistic vitriol, it may not be the last.