At my march in Denton, Texas the organizers asked us to fill out a card saying why we march. I wrote:”Because all the women who stayed home because they haven’t yet found their voice, or someone would hit them or they don’t have a ride, or a million other valid reasons, need to know they are not alone, not crazy, not imagining nor making up what they feel and think about being frightened, oppressed, underpaid, or made to feel “less than.”
During the election process women continued to be discounted. For one thing, its been traditionally acceptable to dismiss women as silly, menopausal, menstrual or hysterical. The millions of marching women did not look silly. We looked real. We looked reasonable. We looked like we knew exactly what we were doing and why we were marching.
There were so many of us that it put lie to the idea that we are only a few radical exceptions hovering on the fringe. The numbers surprised a lot of people, but not those of us who have been paying attention to what it means to be female in our bodies, our families, our communities, our countries. Not to those who have learned to treat each other with respect, to build relationships based on mutual support, admiration and compassion. We have learned to braid lifelines out of these skills and throw them across the differences that could divide us. Equality it isn’t about being the same at all. It is about recognizing the commonality of of our emotions, our suffering, our joy and celebration. We recognize our common ground and know how to stand on it.
But I’m a poet and as Gloria Steinem said so long ago, “the personal is the political.” So here’s what I wrote, walking in the park this morning, thinking of yesterday’s events.
Why I March – The Next Day
Wind is blowing gusting, hovering on the edge of chill.
Blast and bluster buffet my thoughts, shake them free,
send me whirling up out of body, skyward like a falling leaf
granted reprieve, a joy ride over rooftops to lodge
upon the shingled roof of our grandiose landmark courthouse.
My astral perch telescopes past and present, making it easy
to spot myself below, among the crowds. Men, children,
infants-in-arms and a thousand women fill the lawns
moving widdershins around the courthouse
uncoiling chains of fear, silence, shame and isolation.
Feels like déjà vu – over a hundred years of taking
to the street, raising the same signs… now…then… tomorrow
as the crowd mills and moves, chanting, cheering,
churning the cauldron, aerating stuffy closets whose doors
burst open from within. But the women don’t mind.
We are used to mess and mud, chaos and confusion,
know that life’s a package deal.
We carry laundered rags inside our backpacks
for bandages, napkins, diapers, hairbands;
print slogans on them with blood, lipstick or crayon.
We are fierce, good-natured, spirited, proud.
My heart rejoices and grows wings while all around
the sound of clapping grows louder, becomes the clap
of flapping wings. A plump of geese skims above my head.
Duck, egret, sparrow, hawk and heron flirt with the wind
tuck and tumble, soar and glide as earthbound, I
settle back into my body, my time.
The birds and I have the park to ourselves today,
the wind’s kept everyone away.
But I do not walk alone
and this is why I march.
Here’s Gloria in Washington at the March: