I read these two poems at a recent women's workshop. They hit home for many, so I was inspired to share them more widely.
There is a deadness, a confusion
A felt sense of being far from myself
A sense of other voices yelling inside
Much louder than mine, beneath them all
A confusion that clouds just behind my eyes
A heaviness that descends downward, into my chest
A distinct feeling of flat, concrete, boxed
It is visceral and visual and stifling
I have been taught that this is the soil for growth
But I am always forgetting that advice
Beneath is pain, I know enough to know that
Tears that are stuck, dying to be shed
And despite my wish for the flood, the concrete is too heavy to lift
Words and works are buried underneath there, ready to flood forward
Waiting for its chance to burst out
The deadness has its message
One of conditioning, of the request for smallness
The concrete has a message inscribed in deep, thick lettering
You are not allowed, it says
To know what you know, to do what you do, to own what you have
You must be quieter
Your power is not welcome here
Your knowing is not invited
The concrete comes with a feeling, of guilt and shame
A vision of all the wagging fingers and shaking heads
The voices of women who feel threatened
The voices of men who prefer our silence
Sometimes I just can’t shake it and it settles, heavy, over my heart
And the feeling is a feeling like death
Perhaps that is what it is, a death
Of myself, of my voice
Which begins to feel so far away that even I don’t recognize it anymore
I keep waking up
With this ache on my heart
It is cringe-worthy
My face scrunches up
As I draw the feeling in again The message is:
“What are you going to mess up today?
How are you going to be an embarrassment today?
Being yourself is not a good plan.
‘Yourself’ is too loud, too real, too strong, too passionate”
Passionate, they call me.
Well, she certainly is passionate, they say,
Belittling my message to the child’s play of an
She sure is passionate, alright,
They say, as I try with everything I have to scream their goddamn souls awake
They don’t know that I’m screaming at their deadness
Their falseness, how little they know about what is happening here
They don’t know how every word flying out of my mouth
Are words the universe wants to crash in over their heads.
Since nothing else is getting their attention, maybe this will
But no, they just find me like entertainment that
They are slightly embarrassed about.
All that passion.
This passion is the Great Mother trying to save your fucking life
Actually, trying to save all of our lives
And you aren’t listening.
And that is ruining us. It is ruining all of us.
With floods that overrun what once were thriving cities
And fires that take down entire states
As people die in a million unjust ways
And you sit in your chairs and as I yell to you that you better wake up
That your comfort is killing you and the rest of us
And you tell me how passionate I am.
From the Author